One of the main features of the FAST-PASS 7 system is the ability to design a printable and wearable visual pass to help identify a visitor's purpose within a facility. A Pass Definition is composed of two properties that include the Expiration Policy and the Layout Template - where both are stored in the SQL database. This means that after designing and saving a Pass Definition, it can be retrieved later for additional editing. Another important characteristic is that the latest version of the Pass Definition is always retrieved when a new pass is ready for printing. To help you get started and to save time, several Pass Definitions are included with the most popular templates for contractors, employees, and visitors. These templates can be used as a starting point to create more pass definitions. Likewise, these default templates can be edited to accommodate business requirements as time evolves. The concepts and examples below are intended to provide guidance when designing badges or passes.
The expiration policy refers to the time-based rule that will define how long a pass will remain valid to register activities (e.g., Entry, Exit, Checkpoint). For example, if a pass or badge has a barcode printed, and if the barcode is scanned within the expiration time then the pass will read and register an activity. Conversely, if a pass is scanned with a date already expired then the system will display a message indicating that the pass is not valid. If a pass or badge does not have a barcode printed, you can still assign an expiration policy, and have it printed on the pass or badge to visually aid others with the knowledge of when the pass will expire, or when it expired.
A single pass or badge will be used and viewed by many people, if anything, it is the main purpose for issuing a pass. Remember, the main purpose of a pass is to provide a clear, concise, and subtle description of the person wearing the pass. Many of us have seen or worn a “Hello my Name is” pass at some point.
With FAST-PASS 7, we take that basic pass a few steps further. The pass layout template refers to the physical design of the pass that may include visual properties (e.g., barcode, images, and text) to aid the identification of a person who is wearing the pass. The passes can be printed using a black and white, or a color printer. Although there may be many considerations when designing the physical layout of a pass, one way to approach the design is to ask yourself “What should the pass visually convey of the person wearing the pass?” Are they a visitor? Are they a contractor? Are they an employee? With these questions in mind, to get started, you may find it useful to review the following design characteristics, so you can design a Layout Template.
Barcode: Consider if there will be a need to print a barcode so that a FAST-PASS 7 application like Registration, configured with a barcode reader, can read the badge to register a movement type (e.g., Entry or Exit). If you do not include a barcode, then you would have a little more space for other items which you can add, or simply increase the font size to improve visibility (e.g., Date, Names, or Image).
Date\Time: To provide an additional visual cue, perhaps you will want to print a duration component (i.e., date\time) when the pass was issued or when it will expire.
Font and Size: There are plenty of fonts to choose from, but it is best to select fonts that are legible and clear – and not too artistic. The font size will limit the amount of content on the pass, so it is crucial to determine the relevant content and ensure visibility. For example, how big should the following fields be: First Name, Last Name, Visitor Group, Expiration Date, Issued Date. A good starting point would be a font style such as Arial or Calibri with a font size of 10.
Logo: The ideal logo will have a rectangular shape (e.g., 2:1 ratio) with dimensions that would fit within the page size of a paper badge. For example, a logo with resolutions such as: 480 x 240, 460 x 190, or 420 x 225 would work fine because they will properly fill the landscape across the size of most paper badges. Note that a logo with large dimensions, such as 1722 x 748 will need to be scaled down, simply because they are too big to fit If a logo is a small square and if it does not print properly (e.g., looks stretched and unrecognizable ), you can ask the organization for an alternate logo. If not available, then an option would be to insert a text box with the name of the organization and try to mimic the font style of the logo.
Page Layout: Think about the orientation of the pass which can either be vertical or horizontal. Each orientation will be a deciding factor on the size and placement of the elements that you choose to include on a pass. If you start with a vertical orientation and insert a photo, barcode, and data fields, and if at a later time you decide to change to a horizontal layout, then this will have an effect on the placement of the existing elements. Meaning, you will need to resize and move the elements around to accommodate the orientation of the pass.
Paper Size and Margins: Obviously, the paper size will determine how much content can fit and print on a pass. This is a physical limitation that will be a driving factor when deciding what elements to include and at what size. For a pass, the page size can depend on the supplier and such sizes can be in the neighborhood of 2.0 × 4.0 or 2.5 × 4.0 inches. The margins refer to the space separating text or other elements from the edge of the paper. Because the page size is somewhat small, the margins would be around 0.10 or 0.01 inches on all four sides of a footnote, text box, or page.
Portrait Picture of Person: Generally speaking, the intention of a pass is to help identify a person, and this would most likely include a photo of the person. Therefore, consider sufficient size so the picture is visible. But also remember to pay close attention to the quality of the picture. When you have a moment, please review the Photo Taking Guidelines article to review considerations related to proper lighting conditions when capturing photos.
Printer Type: Although not necessarily related to the layout, but worth thinking if you will print in black & white or with colors. Simply because if you design a badge with various colors then it will require a color printer with special ink toners. Conversely, if you print to a thermal printer, then no ink, toner, or ribbon is required. A thermal printer will gently heat the paper to produce black on grayscale colors. Also, make sure the printer can print the size of the page defined. Therefore, in simple terms make sure the pass layout can be properly rendered by the printer intended for use when printing passes.
“Good designers must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times. They should–and must–question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must have an intuition for people’s changing attitudes. For the reality in which they live, for their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits. They must also be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology.” –Dieter Rams
The images below are actual examples of pass templates designed with FAST-PASS 7 (no Photoshop) and they illustrate the formatting ability to design passes with different layouts, colors, and font styles.
With proper formatting, you can draw attention to relevant data (e.g., Names) and objects such as a barcode, logo, and photo. At the same time, you want to provide enough space between elements to improve recognition and visibility.
FAST-PASS 7 includes a Pass Designer with an environment that includes formatting functionality to change the layout, appearance text, and objects. The environment appears within an HTML5 enabled browser and this means no need for third party plugins (e.g., Active-X, Adobe Flash, or Microsoft Silverlight). If you have any experience with Apache Open Office, Apple Pages, Microsoft Word, or any word processing application, then you should be familiar with the task of formatting text and inserting images into a document - the steps are similar when designing a Pass Layout.
Erci Moisa, MBA