Does the road to freedom invite carefree wandering? With this sign, it’s not clear where to start reading or where to look next.

TrailofTriumph

It was posted on a trail that is frequented by joggers, walkers, and dogs of all breeds. The posting location is smart, but the design makes it hard to take this information in stride.

The photo first captures our attention. Because of its sharp lines, it starts to partition the sign into quadrants of information: the name of the event (1), the date and location (2), the sponsors (3), and other details (4). But the eye has to jump around to take all of this in. The design elements are diluted across the field, positioned without clear hierarchy. 

The photo paired with the name of the event, could have been beautiful as a sole graphic. Cornered and tightly cropped like this, however, it instead creates additional angles and edges in the overall layout, and traps the drummer between two areas of “white” space. The positioning doesn’t suggest anything about freedom; from feng shui, one would say the chi is not flowing well.

The text is in various faces and colors, likely intended to help signal different types of information. Even so, it’s not immediately clear if this is for a film screening, a historic reenactment, a parade, or something else. To a time-pressed jogger or a distracted dog-walker, this confusion will result in, at best, a foggy memory of the most eye-catching element: the photo. But reminding us about lobsterbacks isn’t the primary goal of this sign.

With a clearer hierarchy in the information, the sign will be more readable and more memorable. Here’s an alternative…

TrailofTriumphAlternative

Without a photo, the name of the event takes center stage. We take advantage of the event name to declare what this sign is for: announcing a walk. And it is a triumphant walk, so a bold face (Phosphate) is used to reflect that energy. The eye is then, reading from left to right, led to the date and time section. The blue boxes look like they contain event details (which they do). They also help to define an area for the main graphic and an area for small print about sponsorship.

This alternative is also bold enough that drivers passing by can be reminded of the event name, unlike the original. But from the original, it retains the main colors (deep red and navy blue), and also doesn’t require a bleed or background ink. The copy is slimmed down. Instead of “Event is free” and “Participants of all ages are welcome,” the phrase “Free and open to all ages” suffices.

Here’s sample copy. What’s your redesign?

Silver Creek Annual. Trail of Triumph Walk. Sunday, Sept. 3. 2 pm Sheridan Center. 3 pm Lafayette Park. Free and open to all ages. Refreshments will be served. Silvercreekhistory.org. Trail of Triumph is a joint initiative of the Silver Creek Historical Society and the Village of Silver Creek. We are grateful for generous support from: