Segmented Screens


Designing for segmented screens poses a unique challenge because you have a limited number of segments to work with, and usually a single color.

My Role

I’ve worked on the screen layout for a few blood glucose meters that were going to use a segmented screen. Designing segmented screens is a puzzle where you’re trying to squeeze as much information as you can within a small space without sacrificing comprehension.


Limited number of segments: There is a limit to the number of segments you can use based on the circuit design and battery limits. The challenge is to get the most out of the segments you have by combining segments where you can. For example, if two segments will only ever be displayed together, they can be treated as a single segment even if they do not touch.

Segment placement: In order to light up each segment individually, segments cannot overlap. There also has to be a certain amount of space between segments (varies for different screens).

Word length: If you need to spell out words, good luck. Letters like “m” and “w” take up a lot of space and can be difficult to fit.

Icons: Since words are difficult to display in a legible way, segmented screens are often very icon-heavy. Finding icons that clearly communicate the desired information is always a challenge.

Colors: In some cases, segmented screens can be lit with multi-colored LEDs. Although this does offer additional design possibilities, it also adds a level of complexity. Often, the limitation is that a segment can only be displayed in one color – meaning that one segment can be blue and another can be red, but the same segment cannot be blue and red.