Custom Sign Design - Best Practices

Sign Design Guide

This guide is intended for designers of custom “location marker” signs for Bbot Smart Ordering. Alternatively, Bbot also offers standard location markers such as the one shown below.

Introduction

The purpose of the “location marker” signage is to tell guests that they can place orders if they:

  1. Visit the ordering website on their smartphones
  2. Enter the specified table number (or other unique name for their table or room)

Style

Most signs in restaurants are advertisements for happy hours, daily specials, and brands of beer and liquor. To differentiate, location markers should look less “busy” and more utilitarian. They must look like instructions that guests are expected to read, not simply advertisements promoting brand awareness. We recommend using just 2 major colors (perhaps with a 3rd accent color), with a solid-colored background.

Instruction Text

Guests must feel that ordering from the website is easier than waiting in line for a couple minutes. The word choices on the sign should avoid common guest misunderstandings:

  • A misunderstanding that the sign requires a mobile app to use. Restaurant guests are weary of being asked to download & install apps, so it’s important that they understand this is just a website, and it won’t be a hassle to use.
  • A misunderstanding that this is a third-party delivery service like Uber Eats, asking you to order from somewhere else.
  • A belief that you must be a member of a guest-rewards program, with a username and password, in order to use the service.

barge_table@4x.png

The restaurant’s branding will often specify font choices, but if not, Bbot’s standard fonts are Roboto and DIN Alternate. These fonts make URLs readable and attractive. In general, avoid over-stylized fonts that look too much like an advertisement.

URL

Always put www. in front of the url. This helps communicate that it’s a website; otherwise many people won’t recognize that your_restaurant.menu is a domain name. Also, Google Chrome sometimes doesn’t recognize .menu as a URL unless it also has www. in front. So if a new guest types bbot.menu into Chrome, it often does a search instead of going to the web page. Typing www.bbot.menu causes it to go to the web page. 

Location Code

Location markers include a location code, such as B73, that the guest needs to enter on the website. This location code may be referred to on signage as a “Location Code”, “Table Number”, “Room”, or whatever makes sense for the venue. But it should be consistent across all signage. Bbot’s web designers will make the prompt on the website use the same word choice as the signage, for clarity. 

QR Code

Optionally, the sign may also include a QR code that points to the website landing page. This saves the effort of typing the URL, for guests who know how to scan a QR code (which is simply pointing the phone’s camera at it, for modern phones). A QR code is not necessary for system operation; you should choose whether to include it based on whether the expected clientele will appreciate it.

You can generate a QR code with https://www.qrcode-monkey.com/ or another QR code generator. (E.g. some QR code generators can embed graphics, if desired.) It should point to:

HTTP://YOUR_ORDERING_SITE.MENU

Use exactly that format; the QR code is different from the printed sign. The QR code needs to have HTTP:// and does not need WWW. It’s best to use all capital letters for the URL (for technical reasons, this yields a more compact QR code).

Optionally, a QR code can “deep-link” to a specific Delivery Location. To do that, create a link such as HTTP://YOUR_ORDERING_SITE.MENU/CABANA1 (if cabana1 is the location code). However, it can be laborious and error-prone to produce a large number of signs with different QR codes, so most venues simply link to the main ordering page. 

Test any QR code you produce -- point your phone camera at it and verify you end up on the correct site.

Taste & Good Judgment

We advise you to use artistic judgment in how you follow brand guidelines. For example, some restaurants’ logos are very busy (for example, they include text), and the sign looks better if it only uses a piece of the logo. The most important goal is to produce a clear, attractive sign. 

It may be tempting to remove all explanation text from the sign, to make it visually cleaner. This tends to produce a sign that is aesthetically pleasing but incomprehensible to guests. Always keep the first-time guest experience in mind, and follow the maxim “make it as simple as it can be, but no simpler.” For example, don’t just write a URL with no explanation -- always include words like “Visit <site> to order”.

Appendix 1 - NFC Tags

Near-field communication (NFC) tags are small, inexpensive stickers that contain an antenna and a chip. When a phone is held next to the NFC tag, the phone wirelessly scans the chip, reads a URL from it, and offers the user a choice to visit the URL.

Newer phones (iPhone XR and higher, and most Android phones) are continuously scanning for nearby NFC tags. On older phones, the user must open an NFC reader app to scan tags.

Bbot can provide NFC tags containing a link to the ordering website. If these are placed behind printed signs, guests can simply tap their phones against the sign. NFC tags can also enable special projects such as sculptures containing a link to a hidden menu. For special projects, more technical info is below. Also, Bbot can provide technical advice before work starts, to ensure the NFC tag will work. However, remember that many phones still do not support NFC, so NFC cannot fully replace human-readable signs.

Technical Details for Designers

NFC tags are small adhesive stickers. Phones can read them with about a ½” gap between the NFC tag and the phone, so the NFC tag can be hidden behind a sign, in a sculpture, or even embedded in a wall. However, metals will block the signal, so NFC tags won’t work underneath a metal surface. Some NFC tags can work on top of a metal surface, but a special type of tag must be used, and it reduces the range.

Stone, wood, paper, plastic, and glass work well with NFC tags, so they’re the best choices for NFC projects. (Or, in technical terms: any electrically non-conductive material will work.) 

Bbot’s standard NFC tags are 38mm diameter circles, 0.3mm thick, with adhesive on the underside. The special NFC tags for use on top of metal surfaces are 30mm diameter and 0.4mm thick.

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