Mar 8, 2020 | Articles

What if there were no directional signs at the airport, museum, or hospital?

Could you imagine the panic it would cause? Wayfinding systems are often overlooked, but they’re actually a critically important element for facilities and campuses in every business sector. Designed properly, they aid in navigation, provide answers, and enable a steady flow of traffic.  

In this article, we’ll shed light on five common mistakes in wayfinding design and share some practical guidelines for avoiding them.

Mistake #1: Placing directional signage after decision points.

As you’re walking or driving, ‘decision points’ frequently pop up. At these junctures, you’ll need to make a turn, continue straight, or some other option, depending upon where you’re headed. When navigational signage is placed after the choice needs to be made, it causes confusion, frustration and backtracking. Avoid this mistake by placing directional signage in a visible location well in advance of the decision point, so it allows pedestrians and drivers time to choose which way they want to go.

Mistake #2: Information overload.

Too much text, wild color schemes, and unnecessary media will obscure your intended message. While wayfinding signage is meant to engage customers and prompt interaction, it shouldn’t overstimulate and ultimately disengage the user. That’s exactly what happens when you bombard people with too many distractions in your wayfinding signage. Keep the signage design crisp, clean and straightforward to make the experience as effortless as possible.

Mistake #3: Overcrowding the space.

In any commercial environment, there’s only so much available real estate for signage placement. The need for directional signs, security and safety notifications, and advertising signage, among others, often leaves wayfinding fighting for space. Clustered, overcrowded signage placement is confusing and off-putting. Avoid this issue by grouping specific types of signs together in designated areas. For example, place security signs together in one location, and group the directional signage in another spot. When it comes to wayfinding, good system design also includes planning for the various families of signs that may be required.

Mistake #4: Lack of contrast.

It’s important to get the colors in your wayfinding signage right, but the contrast may even be more critical.  Black lettering on a white background is standard, but if your signs are more colorful, make sure the text stands out and is legible when it’s viewed from a distance. Avoid using colors that are similar, such as blue text on a green background.

Mistake #5: Poor maintenance.

Wayfinding systems aren’t intended to be static. They should grow and evolve, and that means they need ongoing monitoring and management. It’s common to see directional signs and navigational aids that are damaged, overgrown and illegible. Wayfinding signage that’s in poor condition should be replaced with well-positioned, easy-to-read new signs, while anything that’s obsolete should be removed right away. To avoid the possibility of causing visitors stress and chaos, audit your wayfinding system signage periodically and update it as needed.

Wayfinding plays a key role in the overall visitor experience.  We can all relate to the frustration of trying to find that well-hidden restroom or locating the exit in a maze of unfamiliar corridors that all look the same. Help to give everyone a seamless, stress-free experience when they visit your facility with appropriate, well-planned navigational signage.

At Adler Display, we’re dedicated to delivering custom-designed wayfinding solutions that boost engagement, raise brand awareness, and foster customer loyalty. Please contact our helpful professionals get started.

About Adler Display: Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Adler Display brings more than 80 years of experience to its clients in need of recognition displays, lobby and corporate interiors, custom exhibits, historical timelines, trade show displays, and signage and graphics. For more information about Adler Display, please visit the website at or call 855-552-3537.