10 Tips For Effective Wayfinding Signage Design And Display

Do you know how to find your way? Whether you need signs to direct customers around your store, or wayfinding signs for an exhibition or display in West Sussex, there are certain fundamental rules you’ll need to follow to create the most effective signs.

Creating effective wayfinding signage is an art, and there are a wide array of signs at your disposal. From directional to information signs, each piece of the wayfinding jigsaw needs to fit into a cohesive whole. Here are 10 design and display tips to help you and your customer’s make the most of your wayfinding signs.

1. Never make assumptions

Always treat your customers as if this is their very first visit.

2. Know your space

Always take the time to survey and walk through the space. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and consider all the landmarks on your way, including places that are easy to navigate and those that present a potential problem.

3. Look for the decision points

Where are the places that a decision needs to be made about the direction of travel? Staircases, lifts, entrances, exits and crossroads are all obvious places to locate wayfinding signs to help visitors make informed decisions.

4. Add travel distance

Adding a distance or an estimated time of travel is useful when visitors may have deadlines to meet. It clues your customers into navigation between points A and B by creating concrete details around your landmarks and helps visitors to plan their visit.

5. Keep it concise

When you’re designing wayfinding signs, there’s no space for visual clutter. Keep the message and the way of conveying it clean, clear and precise. Use as few words as possible or, even better, use a symbol or pictogram. Your signs are there to inform, not to impress with your use of vocabulary, so don’t use fancy terms for the sake of it.

6. Don’t reinvent the wheel

If other signage in your building uses a consistent set of symbols, fonts, language and colour scheme, then stick with them. If your reception area is known as reception, don’t suddenly redesignate it as the foyer or lobby.

7. Keep signage up to date

Make a habit of revisiting your wayfinding on a regular basis. If any routes have changed, then outdated signs will cause confusion and disorientation where you should be seeking to introduce order and clarity.

8. Take note of hazards

If you’re installing signs outdoors, what are the immediate risks to the longevity of your sign? Will it fade in strong sunlight or be exposed to high winds? Is it likely to get pranged by cars or be covered in mud, obscuring the message? Assessing the risks will help you find the ideal installation spot.

9. Use the right materials for the job

If you want your signs to stand up to the rigours of the job, choose long-lasting materials that are appropriate to the installation site.

10. Understand the options

Design, fonts, colours and materials – at the Sussex Sign Company, we can help you assess all your options to create wayfinding signage that is informative and useful for your customers. Want to know more? Contact us for details.

Why should you use a professional sign company for your business signage?

Your external signage represents your business, either working to impress and draw passers-by into your store, or make them turn away without ever giving your business so much as another glance. Poorly maintained or low quality signage can even leave these potential customers with actively negative opinions of your firm, despite never having set foot inside.

Few business owners would dispute the necessity of having some form of external signage. But, now that you’ve got a signage solution in place, the job is as good as done, right? All you have to do now is to wait for the customers to come flooding in? If only it were that simple.

More to signage than meets the eye

That your signage is essentially an ambassador for your company is indisputable, but the quality of the sign is almost more important than the sign itself. As a demonstration of this, imagine an exchange where one person suggests to another that they visit your business. The latter person responds that it looks a bit run-down, but there’s another very similar company just up the road, so they might as well go there instead.

Your business may well have the best service in town, but if customers are put off before they get through the door, you may as well not bother. Even if your business is locally acclaimed with a solid base of repeat customers, signage retains its power to draw in or turn away, and it would be unwise to slip into complacency. What can be done to ensure that your business signage stays on-message, leaving the very best impression possible with the thousands of potential customers who walk past your premises every day?

The solution

The answer is, fortunately, as cost-effective as it is simple: for the professional signage necessary to communicate the professionalism of your business, use only a professional sign company. We’ve explored the reasoning behind this in the sections below and have taken a good look at each one to find out exactly what high quality signage from a professional sign company can do for you.

Increase your brand recognition

Signage can be as simple as stating your trading name and perhaps a slogan, but by incorporating your brand into your sign, the latter is transformed into a much more powerful tool. Research shows that consumers are far more likely to buy from brands that they recognise. You can create repeat customers by making your store particularly distinctive so that it becomes known as, say, ‘that perfume shop’, instead being thought of as just another shop selling cosmetics.

Thinking more broadly of the importance of brand recognition, imagine that you run a pet shop. The majority of the thousands of people passing your shop daily probably have no reason to buy something from you. However, should any of these people decide at some point to get a pet, or should a friend ask them for a good store, yours will be the first that comes to mind. Provided that your signage is professional and has created a good impression.

In-house design and advice

Many professional sign companies offer in-house graphic design services. Effective design is vital to attract customers and avoid confusing them or putting them off. External signs should be simple, bold and legible at a distance. Consistency across all of your promotional channels is important, so incorporating your branding is a good idea. Being memorable is equally important, but avoid squeezing excessive amounts of information onto the sign or you risk confusing the reader.

Regulatory compliance

When giving your shopfront a facelift it’s easy to get carried away, but don’t forget that signage is subject to a number of regulations. Signs don’t usually require planning permission, but the situation depends on the extent of the work being undertaken and whether or not your building is listed. Health and safety regulations lay down the responsibilities of the installer and the owner of the sign, with most of the liability for maintenance falling on the owner. Professionally trained installation technicians can be relied upon to deliver high quality, safe work from the outset.

Long-term maintenance

As mentioned above, the responsibility for sign maintenance lies with the owner of the sign. This is not optional; the law obligates the owner to keep the sign, its fittings and fixtures in good working condition in order to minimise the risk of harm. Liability for any injuries sustained by falling signs due to lack of maintenance also lies with the owner.

This means that preventive routine maintenance to pre-empt problems before they occur is practically a necessity. Reactive maintenance – dealing with a problem that has already happened – simply isn’t sufficient.

For this reason, professional sign companies usually offer maintenance plans, believing that sign design and installation is only the first step in a job that won’t be completed until the sign has reached the end of its life. Many companies can even tailor the maintenance plan to your specific needs.

Boost your bottom line

Not only can professional signage increase customer footfall, but research from America suggests that a well-designed and maintained sign can even reduce the required expenditure on other forms of marketing. This makes signage a particularly economical marketing solution.

At The Sussex Sign Company, we have over two decades’ experience under our belts, giving us the know-how to produce a truly professional signage solution specially designed for your circumstances. We are committed to working with you throughout the years of your sign’s life to ensure that your investment reaches its full potential. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

What is wayfinding and why is it important?

What is wayfinding and why is it important?

Wayfinding began as a simple system of signs with arrows on them to point people in the direction of their destination, but has now evolved to become user-focused, technology-driven and highly integrated information systems.

Wayfinding systems are essential for navigating public spaces, museums, hospitals and libraries. Not only do these systems serve as useful guides, but they can also be used to enhance people’s experiences and understanding of a given space. In this article, we’ll look at how wayfinding works, the various different types and applications of wayfinding systems, and the importance of effective wayfinding signage in each of these applications.

How does wayfinding work?

Wayfinding systems come in many forms, from signs and maps to digital touchscreen panels. Certain innovative touches have been developed over the years, such as the coloured lines running along corridors in hospitals to lead the way to certain departments.

Some examples of wayfinding are encountered more frequently than others. Whenever you enter a building, you’re immediately confronted with decisions. You might have a vague idea as to the location of your destination – say, the fourth floor to the left of the elevators – or only know that you need to locate so-and-so’s office, somewhere in the building. But knowing how to get to your destination from your current location is the issue that wayfinding systems aim to resolve.Your journey through the building will be composed of a series of ‘nodes’ that help to keep you on track – for example, from the reception desk to the elevators, then from the elevators to the office. Wayfinding is about making this process smooth and informative, and thus could be defined as a form of spatial problem solving. An efficient and effective wayfinding system should answer three questions – ‘where am I?’, ‘where is my destination?’ and ‘how do I get from here to there?’

Why is effective wayfinding important?

Wayfinding systems are found all over the place, but you are likely to consciously notice these systems only if you actively look for them. Common spaces include libraries, university campuses, transportation hubs, healthcare facilities, and large public and corporate buildings.

Besides the obvious goal of helping people to find their destinations, effective wayfinding systems have several other important roles to play. Particularly important in busy high-stress environments, such as airports or hospitals, effective wayfinding can help engender a sense of safety, security and well-being.

Healthcare

In hospitals and other healthcare facilities, research suggests that carefully designed wayfinding systems can even influence the well-being of those being treated. Studies from the 1990s onwards have found that, in contrast to the clinical white walls with which most of us are familiar, soothing environments decorated with comforting colours and plants, flowers and sunlight are far better at healing.

Alongside this, but no less important according to the researchers, should be easy navigation around the facility aided by architectural cues and a well-designed wayfinding system. One study carried out by spatial expert Jain Malkin looked at how visual cues are used in every day navigation outdoors, then applied this to the interior of a hospital building, promoting natural light, highly visible yet unobtrusive signage and looped corridors instead of dead-ends for a more natural wayfinding experience.

This is all the more important when we remember that families and patients visiting healthcare facilities are often stressed as a direct result of the medical reason for their visit, let alone the additional stress of having to navigate between multiple buildings with complex layouts. Carefully designed wayfinding signage, featuring easily-followed instructions can be employed to minimise stress. And some wayfinding systems go further, dispensing with textual information and instead relying upon non-textual cues, such as symbols and colours.

Transportation

Airports are also quite stressful places, especially at large regional hubs where many passengers transfer from one flight to another in a short space of time. In such settings, wayfinding systems deliver information at key decision points in a carefully planned manner throughout a traveller’s journey through the complex. Such a wayfinding system usually combines maps, signage, colours and symbols to create a comprehensive navigational aid.

Problems with wayfinding systems occur when there is insufficient information for the traveller to make a decision as to where to go. But whilst having enough information is important in order to be able to choose the required route, some wayfinding specialists point out that too much information can cause just as many problems.

Museums and galleries

Poorly designed wayfinding systems can frustrate the traveller to the extent that they will not return to the space. But equally in museums and galleries, giving the traveller too many options and excessive information can lead to them missing large parts of exhibits. In many galleries and museums, exhibition rooms are open-plan with unstructured paths, with users simply being guided from one room to the next.

Users may make an effort to walk around each room in its entirety, but many will simply take the path of least resistance, which diminishes their experience of the space. Paths can be restricted in many ways, from building a flowing, coherent narrative into the exhibition, to using wayfinding devices to clearly illustrate which exhibits are where and how they can be found.

Therefore, a well-designed wayfinding system contains architectural cues, well-structured paths and clear symbol- or colour-based signage, but also employs these elements to limit the number of choices available to the visitor, paradoxically enhancing their experience by doing so.

Conclusions

Wayfinding is truly ubiquitous and is essential for navigating the unique challenges of modern life. The wide variety of environments in which wayfinding systems are employed requires careful thought and planning to develop a system to meet the demands of a particular space. At The Sussex Sign Company, we have the expertise necessary to advise on the most appropriate wayfinding system for each and every application. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information.

Newhaven Town Council launch Poppy Trail…

The Sussex Sign Company had the privilege of working with Jenny Flood, Project Officer, from the Newhaven Town Council, on a heritage project that took months of planning.

The interpretation panels are around the town as part of the Council’s Heritage Lottery funded project ‘Newhaven’s First World War’. During the First World War, Newhaven became one of the major supply ports to the Western Front. The number of soldiers at the Garrison increased to over 4,000, the Boys’ School (Hillcrest Centre) was converted into a Military Hospital and a Seaplane Station was built on the beach between the East Pier and Tide Mills.

The lecterns are Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) Mounted Duralite weatherproof and vandal resistant full colour digital panel size A1. These were fitted at a 45degree angle to a double legged zinc plated mild steel lecturn powder coated to a RAL colour and they were fitted all across the Newhaven Poppy Trail, a total of six signs were fitted in total.

Lecterns are perhaps the most used structures for interpretive panels. The Sussex Sign Company manufacture interpretive lecterns in many different materials such as Stainless Steel, Galvanized Steel and Powder coated mild steel.

Many of these are made to specific designs and incorporate routing and sandblasting.

As well as stainless steel and galvanized steel we supply powder coated steel and aluminium in our metal range. We manufacture many different designs as well as our standard classic shape.

The Sussex Sign Company can work with you or your design team right across East and West Sussex including Heathfield, Crowbourough and Uckfield. Call us today on 01273 417057

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The Cost of Removing ‘Unnecessary’ Road Signs

Reports claim a council in England has reserved £40,000 to spend on removing superfluous road signs.

Derbyshire County Council intends to follow the government’s advice by liberating Derby from signage clutter. Unfortunately, the cost of achieving this goal in the Dales alone has been estimated at £40,000.

Last year, the British Government advised local authorities to remove unnecessary signs from the roadside. According to ministers, excessive road signs cause all manner of problems in the UK. Aside from distracting or confusing motorists, they challenge the character and aesthetic appeal of cities, towns and villages. The government won public favour when it pledged to remove signage clutter, but does such a step correlate with the cost-saving mindset of the Coalition?

Across the whole of Derbyshire, £70,000 has been set aside to remove unnecessary road signs. Labour has argued that local authorities ought to be spending their limited funds more wisely, perhaps by fixing potholes in the area.

Simon Spencer, deputy leader of Derbyshire County Council and cabinet member for highways and transport, argued that the real waste comes in testing and maintaining unnecessary signs.

Here at The Sussex Sign Company, we support the removal of truly unnecessary signs, but only if the expense can be justified.

Signage Cull Praised by Ministers

Transport ministers have welcomed the removal of thousands of road signs in England. Last year, officials promised to liberate the country from excessive road signage, otherwise described as “unnecessary clutter,” but can such a move be justified?

Road signs are obviously essential for maintaining health and safety on Britain’s roads, as they provide important information and directions for road users. Too many road signs, however, can cause confusion. More important to residents of rural communities, excessive signage can ruin the aesthetics of an area.

Since restrictions on road signs were lifted in October 2011, Somerset, London and Hampshire have led the way in removing “confusing and ugly” signs. To date, more than 9,000 signs have been removed by local authorities.

In 2014, new laws are expected to be implemented, that give local authorities more control over the location of road signs.

Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said: “There are too many unnecessary signs blotting the landscape of our towns and cities. London, Hampshire and Somerset are a fantastic example and I urge other councils to think about where traffic signs are placed and whether they are needed at all.”

Here at The Sussex Sign Company, we welcome the removal of unnecessary signage, but question whether the clean-up will result in too many important road signs being taken down.

Paper Mill Manager Raises Cash for Tourist Signs

The manager of a paper mill in Hertfordshire briefly overcame her fear of spiders, to take part in a sponsored stunt that aimed to raise cash for Tourist signs.

Sue Woolnough, who is employed by Frogmore Paper Mill as education manager, raised over £800 by letting a large tarantula walk across the palms of her hands.

Ms Woolnough said: “I was amazed I managed to do it. I just had to keep thinking small furry animal and I knew I had to go ahead, as so many people had sponsored me to do it. I would like to thank everyone who kindly sponsored me in my efforts to conquer my phobia.”

Of course, the main aim of the stunt was not to cure Ms Woolnough’s arachnophobia but raise money for brown tourist signs that direct motorists to the paper mill in Apsley.

Here at The Sussex Sign Company, we congratulate Ms Woolnough on rising above her fear of spiders to complete the task. Raising more than £800 should contribute towards the cost of the signs, which provide useful information for road users. The Sussex Sign Company specialise in producing signage for all occasions, including directional and informational signs for shops, businesses and charities. If you are a registered charity The Sussex Sign Company is happy to give you a discount of 30% from our standard prices.