We mentioned in our previous post that sign industry professionals use the science of signs when creating a communications vehicle for their clients. These same principles should be applied to your dynamic digital content as well. The four considerations are known as Conspicuity, Legibility, Visibility and Readability. We like an acronym to help recall these four design factors: CLEVR. It really is more than clever 😉
Just what are these four factors, when you analyze them? Today’s post gives you a framework for understanding these principles, as we tackle each one in this blog series.
For communication to take place, a message must be conveyed. Just like speech, or signing, a physical sign exists to communicate a message. This is considered commercial speech. Let’s look at Conspicuity!
If you were to shout out a math answer in a forest, a teacher thousands of miles away will never know you had the right answer- this relates to “visibility.” If you were standing in front of the professor, and then relayed the test answer with a language you made up that morning, the professor will still not know if you answered correctly or not. This relates to “readability” in the typographic world. If you are speaking clearly, but at a low volume while a jet passes overhead at 120 decibels, your voice will not stand out. This is akin to a sign that is not conspicuous.
The same policies holds true for dynamic digital signs: Your sign’s message must be noticed, and then, it must clearly communicate. This entails conspicuity, legibility, visibility, and readability. For the sign industry, “conspicuity and readability” have become synonymous with sufficiency in size, height, placement, and illumination to allow the message to be seen, read and comprehended.
Today we’ll focus on Conspicuity (no pun intended!). Conspicuity is the “quality of a character or symbol that makes it separately visible from its surroundings” (Sanders and McCormick, 1993). Typographic research on conspicuity has mostly been concerned with the effect of underlining, change of typesize and so on, using eye-movement and comprehensibility measurements.
A sign placed in an empty room may meet all the criteria for visibility, legibility (letters and/or graphics can be easily differentiated), and readability (the legend in totality conveys a meaningful or understandable message to the viewer.). Now, place that same sign in the urban environment, where it competes visually with other signs, telephone poles, street lights, bus shelters, flags, banners, and right-of-way landscaping, it can be essentially invisible. In other words, conspicuity has to do with the context in which the sign appears.
In the case of dynamic digital signage, often though not always seen indoors, the unit placed on a wall or kiosk is not going to find too much competition for attention in its natural environment. With its internal illumination, and motion aptitude, the dynamic sign is unlikely to suffer from inconspicuousness.
It should be easy to understand, therefore, that CLEVR is evaluated according to the application. Within a textbook, for example, conspicuous text is not the aim. Legible and readable content is of great importance. The CLEVR science, according to the criteria of legibility, readability, and conspicuity, will be reviewed here with interior dynamic digital content application in mind.
Next posting: Let’s look at Legibility (no pun intended!)