Size really does matter — when creating messages for LED signs.
The SBA estimates a business may see as much as a 50 percent increase in sales after adding an LED sign at their location. LED sign messages attract attention for a number of reasons. The light, color and even movement will all draw the attention of people driving or walking past your sign. But will they read the message?
Here’s where size can really make a difference
The physical size of your LED sign will dictate exactly how much information you can display in a message. The height determines the number of lines and the width determines how many characters can be displayed on each line. If you’re working with a smaller sign keep your message brief and to-the-point to make it easier for your audience to understand. Remember, your viewer is probably MOVING when they pass your sign. Your message needs to be clear when viewed at a glance.
If you decide to abbreviate words in your message make sure your abbreviated words are easy to understand.
SPL SL FR 426: Meant to convey “Special Sale Friday 4 to 6 pm”
This abbreviation reads more like a text message. If your viewer has to stop and think “SPL, what does that mean?” you’ve already lost them. If the entire message won’t fit on your sign in a single display, break it up into two messages.
1) SPECIAL SALE 2 ) FRI 4PM – 6PM
Even if your viewer only sees ONE of these messages passing by they’ll pick up important info. There’s a special sale coming… or something special is happening Friday from 4pm to 6pm! They’re much more likely to pay attention to your message the next time they pass your sign so they can “fill in the blanks” on that information.
Ascenders and Descenders
Those little stems in some characters that appear above or below the fluffy round centers of a character are known as ascenders or descenders. Because ascenders and descenders bring your text above and below the center of the line they consume extra space in your message.
Using upper case characters in your LED sign message can make it easier for a moving audience to read your message.
Upper case characters are larger and can be read from a greater distance. Compare these examples. Which message is easier to read? Both messages contain nine words.
This message could have been ‘CONGRATS EASTER EGG HUNT DRAWING WINNERS” reducing the message to 6 words that would easily fit on this sign. Abbreviating “congratulations to “CONGRATS” would have eliminated seven characters. There are several ways this message might have been shortened or abbreviated — without losing the context.
Serif Versus Sans-Serif Fonts
Sarif fonts have “flourishes” on the ascenders and descenders. Sans-sarif fonts do not. The word “sans” literally means “without” so a sans-serif font does not have these flourishes. These additional flourishes can make your text upper case characters a bit larger. Compare the text in this example. The serif font (times roman) is set at 14 points. The sans-serif font is set at 12 points. The smaller “footprint” of the sans-serif font results in more per line.
Preview for the win!
Use your message software’s preview option to see what your message will look like before you send it to the sign. Put it on screen and walk away from it. Walk back and ask yourself if you were moving when you passed the message would it be clear to you? Thoughtful development of your LED sign messages can really have an impact on reaching your audience.