Let’s face it: the world is full of potential hazards. How we deal with a lot of these potential hazards depends a lot upon how effective we make our warning signs. Regardless of whether it’s a safety sign, a cautionary sticker, or even a product label, the warning sign must capture our attention and convey vital safety information. For your warning label to do these things, there are certain design elements you must consider, which we outline for you now.
Simply put, there are two main categories you need to consider when creating effective warning labels:
1.To capture attention, and;
2. To convey information
The reason we have split the list of things to consider into two categories is to help you understand how each thing on the list helps to create an effective warning label.
Beneath these categories are subcategories to consider:
Nothing grabs attention like colour. Think of how quickly your eyes are drawn to a rose petal surrounded by thorns? Exactly. Colours grab attention, but they also evoke emotions, and most warning signs do the same. When you think of the colour red do you think of danger? Of urgency? Of Anger? On the other hand, does the colour blue make you feel calm? There’s plenty to consider here, so make sure you take your time, as it’s vital you strike the right balance with your colour choices. Too little colour on your warning label might fail to grab attention, while too much colour—or, too many colours—might dilute the label’s intended impact. Contrast is your friend here; by using strong, contrasting colours, you’re much more likely to grab someone’s attention.
The right typography will also grab attention, and when paired with the right colours, will always make for an effective warning label. If your label has important safety information, then it must be presented in clear legible fonts, otherwise there’s a risk your message won’t be understood properly.
Typically, plain, bold fonts work best for warning labels, as opposed to overly intricate and decorative fonts. Also, you must consider the size and hierarchy of the text; the most important information must stand out the most and be the easiest to read and understand. Just make sure the fonts and text don’t overwhelm the overall label design, or it may cause confusion.
Symbols, like typography, help convey your warning label’s message. The power—and advantage—of choosing the right symbols for your warning label is that they can convey information quickly, while also transcending language barriers. For example, the skull/crossbones symbol means toxicity, no matter where you are in the world. Symbols are vital things to consider if your label warns against threat of life.
Conciseness refers to both the text and the overall label design. If the design is cluttered, it takes longer for the reader to understand what they are being warned about. Likewise, if the text itself is unclear, you run the risk that your label will be misunderstood, which could lead to fatal consequences. Always keep the label text clear and direct and avoid technical terms or industry jargon.
The great thing about conciseness is that it’s easy to measure; if someone with no prior knowledge of your industry can read your warning label and has no questions afterwards, your job is done.
This is more for you to consider than anyone else. Always make sure your warning labels obey the regulations and guidelines specific to your industry. Label size, placement, compulsory safety and legal information, all these things must addressed if you want to make a warning label that is effective and legal.
This isn’t something you need to necessarily consider when first making your warning labels. However, over time, it is something that you must consider. If you work in an industry whose rules and regulations are constantly changing, then chances are you must adjust your labels to reflect these changes.
Revision can take many shapes, from asking for employee or customer feedback to keeping the original design flexible enough to change when needed. Just aim to continually improve your warning labels and they will always stay effective.
It may seem a lot to consider, but it’s not. Just take it step by step, patiently and thoroughly, and you’ll end up with effective warning labels.