Navigational help is essential when you are in a new location or building. It’s a fundamental human need. That’s exactly what wayfinding signage does. Also casually referred to as sidewalk signs or directional signs, wayfinding signs either guide you from one point to another, or confirm your advancement along a specific route. Therefore, a wayfinding sign is different from many other signs because they don’t advertise a business.
These signs are a meaningful combination of symbols, signals and other graphical cues which together create a system that helps people efficiently move in and around an area or from “Point A” to “Point B”.
Though the goal of wayfinding signs is to help people navigate, there are three broad categories they fall under.
Direction: The word direction immediately comes to mind when most people think or talk about wayfinding signage. Directional signs lead people towards their final destination. They are usually placed at junctions or any place where you might need help finding your way.
Confirmation: These confirm your progress on, or your arrival to the right path. A quick example of this type of signage is “Gate 10 – 5 minutes walk”. Such a sign confirms two things – a) you are heading on the right path, i.e. Gate 10 and b) you are only five minutes away from the Gate.
Information: They serve you with vital information that is crucial to a specific passage. For example, if you are looking to catch a specific public bus or a flight, they’ll inform and send you to the right gate. These signs also inform drivers on a highway of upcoming congestion or alert them when they are about to enter an area where construction is going on.
Materials that the Signs are Made From
Most wayfinding signs are meant for outdoor use, and so they need to be crafted with highly durable materials. Stainless steel is the most preferable material in this regard as it remains resilient for a longer period. But there are many other materials that are used to create the internal structure (galvanized mild steel), intricate shapes (aluminum) and curved surfaces (acrylic and poly-carbonate) of wayfinding signage. Glass is often used to keep the key information on these signs well-protected. Many other materials are also used to suit specific requirements while designing wayfinding signage.
Uses of Wayfinding Signs
Wayfinding signage makes complex architectural environments look simple. You’ll find these signs almost in all places where you need help finding a specific department or section or route.
Some places where you’ll find wayfinding signage include:
Airports: Wayfinding signage improves your experience when using an airport – both inside and out. They are usually installed near escalators and at crossing points to guide you in the right direction. Through these signs, you’ll be able to find flight information, carousel numbers for baggage collection and terminal numbers for your convenience.
Healthcare Facilities: While in large healthcare facilities, patients and visitors need immediate help finding directions and ways. Thanks to these easy to follow signs, they lead you to your destinations and save your precious time. Think about it what would happen if rooms didn’t have numbers?
Amusement Parks: Theme and amusement parks receive a lot of foot and vehicular traffic on a regular basis. Wayfinding signs in these places tell you where to find particular attractions, rides and amenities. Plus, they make it easy for you to follow safety rules and guidelines.
Tourist Spots: When you are visiting a tourist destination where navigating trails on your own can be difficult or confusing, wayfinding signage provides you the much-needed information about routes, attractions and places to stay. In short, they enrich your overall travel experience.
Another big industry for signage is churches/synagogues, etc. Check out our post on church signs here.