Feeling lost? How wayfinding signs could help

Wayfinding signage is really important.

We won’t name names, but there are certain shops you walk around that seem to be a confusing labyrinth of displays and shelves or a route march through endless stacks of products you have no interest in. We have all wandered around these poorly laid-out places feeling completely lost and with no sense of direction, unable to locate the checkouts or the changing rooms.

The same is true of other public spaces. Finding a ward in a hospital can be tricky without directions, as can finding a specific room of a gallery or museum, or the toilets or shop in a historic landmark property. When you are feeling disorientated, wayfinding signs are the thing you often look to for guidance and a sense of direction. What makes for a good wayfinding signage system and how can installing wayfinding signs help your business?

What are wayfinding signs?

A wayfinding sign does exactly what it says on the tin – helps you to find your way around. No matter what sort of business you run, the chances are you are going to need a wayfinding system of some description if you have business premises that are open to the public.

Usually positioned overhead or somewhere else prominently in the customer or visitor’s eyeline, they help people to navigate their way around your establishment and locate all the things they need. Whether they mark out the types of products to be found on an aisle of shelving; direct people towards the changing rooms, toilets or tills; or guide them towards the entrances and exits, wayfinding signage is critical to help people find their way about.

What makes a good wayfinding sign?

Wayfinding signs need to convey as much information as possible in the most compact and succinct way. The chances are that someone who has stopped to look at a wayfinding sign is new to the premises. They may be in a rush to get in and out, or may already be feeling frustrated at being lost. Nobody wants to spend valuable time wading through too much information when they simply want to get from A to B as directly and as quickly as possible, so wayfinding signs need to tell them exactly what they need to know in as short a space of time as possible.

Strong wayfinding signage therefore needs to be crisply and clearly printed so that it is easy to read. The text should be a reasonable size and in a font that is not overwhelmingly complex and intricate, so that it can be read from a distance without a visitor necessarily needing to slow down to decipher the words. Uncomplicated and fuss-free wayfaring signs are essential and should tell a visitor everything they need to know without them having to slow their pace or read too much information.

You also need to think about text and background colour, as this can have a major impact on the readability of wayfinding signs. A dark background and light text is often the easiest form of sign to read, or vice versa; alternatively, you may wish to put up wayfinding signage that uses your company’s colour scheme. If this is the case, consulting a wayfinding designer from a specialist signwriting company is often a good idea, as some colour combinations are easier on the eye than others. A professional designer will know what works best in these situations.

The benefits of wayfinding signage

Getting lost in any public place is frustrating and can be upsetting, with inadequate wayfinding signage potentially putting customers off visiting your premises again. When people are unfamiliar with the layout of your shop, anything that prevents them finding the goods and products they need is a major inconvenience.

Wayfinding signs are vital in a retail outlet. Cleverly installed, they not only guide your customers to the things they need but can also help with regulating footfall, keeping people moving and circulating, and even directing people towards products they might have overlooked. If you can naturally guide people around special displays and offers, they are more likely to impulse buy because they do not feel that they have been manipulated into making a purchase.

In public spaces in which large numbers of people often gather – such as hospitals, offices or shopping malls – wayfinding signs help to keep the crowds moving and prevent log-jams in tighter spaces such as foyers, lobbies and corridors. With various departments, wards or shops dotted around, people need to be quickly and easily directed to their destination so that you can keep up a steady, moving stream of footfall and minimise the risk of a crush.

Working with the professionals

Wayfinding systems are often very complicated and it is all too easy to get them wrong. Poor sign design or badly-placed signage can render the exercise completely useless – if people cannot see the signs well enough or have to spend too long deciphering them, the system is a failure and visitors will become frustrated.

To get the best wayfinding signage solution, you need to work with an experienced, professional sign company that has experience in installing such systems and understands how they work. At The Sussex Sign Company, we employ some of the most highly-qualified wayfinding designers in the country, with plenty of successful past projects under their belts.

Working with site managers, architects and our in-house design and installations teams, our wayfinding designers can help you to get the most from your wayfinding signage. For more information on how these systems work or to learn more about the services we provide, simply get in touch with our expert team today.