“What are some guiding principles for content prepared for close-up viewing versus long-distance?”
We look at viewing distance as three different categories, not two. We design for 3 feet/1 meter for close-up viewing screens, such as wayfinders, 10 feet/3 meters on informational screens and greater than that for retail/outdoor.
For touchscreens, design principles follow mobile app design guidelines. Consistency within the overall user interface (UI) becomes extremely important. Every day, we all interact with a touch screen UI that breaks consistency rules. For example, an ATM where the “OK” changes location from prompt to prompt not only confuses the viewer, it slows the transaction.
Insteo’s design team talks about the “10-foot rule” often when we work on informational screens, such as menu boards or employee communication screens. This drives font and icon sizing, color contrast and animation principles. This rule demands legibility and clarity and ensures that information is delivered within a glance and at a distance. It’s important to use timelines instead of cramming the screen with too much at once. Less is always more when it comes to design on informational screens.
For larger screens, especially outdoor, the rule tightens. The message must be legible of course, but more importantly, it must be concise. The “five-second rule” isn’t five seconds anymore – it’s less. Color, contrast and concise messaging become key.