Good vs. Bad Outdoor Design

Successful outdoor design will catch the eye of drivers and be readable at roadway speeds. Our designers are specially trained to lay out designs that will accomplish both. While the options are limitless for creative designs, we want your message to be effective and generate business for you, so we will advocate for designs that can make an impression. The examples below, from the driver’s perspective, show how an effective outdoor design can be degraded by clutter, lack of contrast, small font size, and the wrong font style, all design pitfalls that can be easily avoided.

The Golden Rule of Outdoor - Seven Words or Less!


The best messages in outdoor are always simple and precise. This example shows how the impulse to include multiple images to convey the message actually backfires by creating a clutter of images that can’t be distinguished from a distance. Are those brown piles food or something else? Advertisers that apply restraint to the design with a single focused image and seven words or less in the copy achieve better results from their advertising.

Poor Contrast

In this example, even though the individual colors are bright, the combinations of the colors result in low contrast. The use of too many colors weakens the focus of the message by producing conflicting emotional responses. To learn more about color selection for outdoor designs, see Combining Colors for Contrast & Purpose.

Letters Too Small to Read

This design illustrates the risk advertisers take when they overcrowd designs with too many words. With only three to five seconds to grab a driver’s attention, it is vital for outdoor lettering to be scaled to be read from a distance. Drivers who cannot read a billboard are unlikely to look again. To learn more about how to scale letters for outdoor, see The Effect of Font Size on Readability.

Unreadable Fonts

In the busy media landscape, ornate font style becomes a frustration to the viewer. Fonts can denote a certain brand style, but should be avoided in outdoor because they take too much time to read if they can be read at all. To understand how to select readable fonts without sacrificing your brand style, see The Effect of Font Style on Readability.