Outdoor Design Guidelines

Outdoor advertising is designed to be read by people traveling in vehicles. People spend a lot of time in their cars and they are savvy critics of good outdoor advertising.

The Golden Rule of Outdoor - Seven Words or Less!

To ensure readability and impact, follow these design guidelines:

  1. 1. Create a concise message

    Focus your message on a single idea by using seven to nine words. Even short words make a difference so substitute where possible. Drivers have an average of 7 seconds to read your copy.

  2. 2. Use readable fonts and use the right size

    Fonts with even thickness will be easy to read. Ornate fonts with serifs, thick or thin lines, will be difficult to read. Letters must be scaled for distance, too small and they can’t be read. Learn more about font size and selection.

  3. 3. Select a simple photo or graphic to illustrate your message

    Select a product image or supportive graphic that is immediately recognizable backed by a simple background. Trying to show too many products or people on a billboard will confuse your audience. Learn more about photo selection guidelines for billboard art.

  4. 4. Be bold with color and contrast

    Select colors for the lettering and background that are in sharp contrast so the words and images will “pop” off the background. Learn more about color and outdoor.

  5. 5. Leave the driver with a good impression

    Go beyond good basic design to further reach drivers with a touch of humor, surprise, intrigue or beauty and they will remember you when they make a buying decision.

  6. 6. Test Your Artwork

    Artwork can easily be tested for readability by stepping back ten feet from a printed or computer screen art proof and allowing yourself a few seconds to take it in. How much did you see? What could you not read? The contrast can be tested for potential visibility by making a black and white copy of the art to see if the paired colors separate. For an additional method see the Test Your Artwork page.