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Old school sign making meets new school tech

This post is part of a tech+design series by Taylor, the co-founder of Spruce, and myself. You can ready Taylor's post here.

Spruce Menu of Services

The creation of the Spruce services menu began as a simple discussion and sketch in a black paper notebook and evolved over time into a clear, stylish, concise, and visually impactful center for Spruce services.

This custom designed in-store sign needed to convey a rather large amount of information to the visitor, but at the same time needed to be easy to ‘visually navigate’. Beyond prices and service times, a new visitor needs to be able to quickly grasp both the individual services offered and the combination packages of these services.

Work in progress

During an initial meeting, a basic layout was created to get a conversation started as to how the sign would be organized, constructed, and installed.

A top banner declaring ‘Our Services’, an internally-LED-lit raised Spruce logo, and the listing of the services and combinations would compose the majority of the roughly six foot by five foot installation.

The issue of conveying precise service wait times to customers and staff also came to light during this initial meeting. It was decided that microcontroller-powered digital readouts tied to the online booking system would be embedded directly into the sign.

First Design Iteration

After the initial meeting, a more fleshed-out design took shape, still created on paper, by hand. The Spruce logo was moved to crown the sign and the services began to be gathered and organized. The overall shape evolved to create a center area that draws the eye first.

First hand drawn services menu concept

It was during this iteration that the full amount of information being conveyed became clear. Between the individual services being offered (ie. Neck Shave, Haircut), Spruce also offers several packages that combine those services. Overall, fifteen services and service combinations needed to be conveyed to the customer. To make all of this clear to the viewer, this menu needed to be organized carefully.

Spruce’s tagline appears in the upper right of the design in this version. Issues, ideas, and questions appear in the margins of this drawing. Keeping track of concerns and ideas during the sketching process keeps information from slipping away.

Second Design Iteration

After collecting feedback, a second paper design was created. This version shows the beginning of both the increased visual importance of the premium combination services in the center, as well the grouping of individual services and remaining combination services in the outer sections.

It was at this time that an ‘icon’ system began to make an appearance. As opposed to explaining all the services that may have been redundant when presented as text in a combination service, icons for the individual services created a visual shortcut for the visitor.

This second iteration also moved the ‘Services’ title to the middle to help balance the design and draw the eye to the premium services in the center. Other services and combinations appear as wings from the center. Spruce’s ‘Get Empowered’ tagline was also moved to the very bottom of the menu.

Second iteration of Menu of Services

Third Design Iteration

With the third iteration, the design was solidified enough to be moved to a digital format. A digital layout allowed a more precise positioning of design elements as well as being more representative of a final product.

Service icons created by Tyler Gross of Gross Illustrations originally designed for both print and interactive were brought in at this stage to serve as the visual shortcut needed to simplify the services menu. These icons were arranged along the bottom of the sign as a legend for the visitor. Using these icons, a visitor can quickly gather exactly what a combination service entails. 

This icon layout also subtly brings to mind user interfaces of mobile devices like the iPhone as well as desktop OSes. This subtle nod pays respect to the merging of technology with classic services that fuels and inspired Spruce.

Classic and vintage style fonts, and a clean black and white (lack of) color scheme were selected to bring to mind vintage signage from classic businesses like barber shops and general stores.

Digital version of Menu of Services

Construction and Installation

Once the design was finalized through several digital iterations, physical construction began. The sign was constructed from medium density overlay (MDO) board...a standard sign board that’s durable and rigid, but fairly light. The design was transferred to the painted board by hand and the design created using traditional sign painting techniques.

 

A French cleat system keeps the sign very securely held to the wall but capable of being able removed for servicing the microcontrollers and displays mounted to the back of the menu.

Conclusion

Designed and built using traditional sign-making techniques, while including cloud-enabled interactive elements, the Spruce services menu fuses a vintage appearance with high-tech features into something one of a kind, and very unique.



To learn more about my sign services, check out the Chalklatier. My bandwidth is limited so contact me before you need me so we can make sure our schedules sync up!