Helpful Tips


Designing a billboard is visual storytelling. An effective billboard grabs a person’s attention and creates a memorable impression, leaving the reader to think about the billboard after they have driven by.

A good test is to show the design to someone from a distance for only 7 seconds and then ask them about it. Did they understand it? Who was the advertiser? What do they think the advertiser wants them to do?


When designing a billboard keep the following in mind:

Less is more. The most effective messages are always the most simple. Your billboard should be a clear and brief expression of one idea.
Less is more. The most effective messages are always the most simple. Your billboard should be a clear and brief expression of one idea. The golden rule of outdoor is 7 words or less! Does your message communicate effectively within 5-10 seconds? Remember, your target audience might be travelling past your billboard at 65 miles per hour.
Your goal is for people to read your message from as far away as possible. Be sure the words are large and the type is clear and easy to read. Bold, straight fonts work best.
High color contrast is the key to good readability. Colors that work best: black, white and bold, primary colors like red, yellow and blue. Black text on yellow rates the highest in readability.
Use one large image to attract the reader’s eye to the billboard. Take a small object and make it large (like a wrist watch) rather than making a large object small (like a building).
Use a simple background that does not interfere with your image, copy or logo.
Is the call to action clearly found? Does your audience have the necessary information to respond? Keep in mind, phone numbers are difficult for people to remember. If you have a simple website address, often that is the better form of contact.



Professional Photographer

Use a Professional

If possible, it is usually worth hiring a professional to take your photo! Knowledge of lighting techniques, including proper use of a flash and making sure skin-tones are warm and not washed out is very important. Professional photographers can provide a high-resolution file for us to work with. Professionals are aware of things such as a “flash glare” on someone wearing glasses. If you do use a professional, please share this web page as it will make them aware of other considerations that will help in the final design.

Professional Photographer

Is Your Friend Taking Your Photo?

Make sure you use a quality digital camera set at the highest (or finest) resolution possible. Remember, we are enlarging the photo to be nearly 12’ tall in some cases. We need the best resolution possible so the photo doesn‘t get grainy or pixelated when enlarged. In recent years, smart-phone cameras are being made with amazing quality. Feel free to use your smart-phones camera, but keep in mind several other tips on this page.

Simple Backgrounde Example

Use a Simple Contrasting Background

The vast majority of billboard designs which include people, the subjects are “cut-out” from the background. To make this easier and more accurate, we recommend using a solid one color, contrasting background if possible.  Have your subject stand 4  to 6 feet away from the background.

Crop Example

Crop In On the Subject

Most of the time, photos of people on billboards are from the chest up. Unless the design is going to include more of the subject - it is helpful to crop your photo from just below the chest and to include the top of the subjects head and both shoulders. We need those shoulders! A good rule is to include both sides of the subject down to their elbow.We try to angle shoulders toward the center of the board. If you are taking pics with one shoulder in front of the other, take photos angling both ways so our design team has flexibility to place the subject on either side of the design.

Crop Example

Group Photos

There is nothing that will make group photo subjects turn on you faster than you not being prepared. People don’t like to be kept waiting, so plan ahead.

  • Arrange people in a staggered formation.
  • Keep the group close together.
  • Make sure people's faces aren't covered.
  • Be strategic about lighting.
  • Don't crop the subject's shoulders on both ends.
  • Shoot a sequence of photos.
  • Let your subjects have fun.


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