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The Science Behind Wayfinding Sign Design

Sign image - The Science Behind Wayfinding Sign Design

When you look at wayfinding signage systems, what do you see? In most cases, you are simply exposed to a variety of directional information that is displayed in a logical manner, but are wayfinding signs merely conduits of information, or are they something more?

Not a Simple Process

For some, wayfinding signs are simply a means to an end, a way in which travelers get from point A to point B in a building. Because of this, it’s easy to believe that their creation is a simple process:

  1. Gather information

  2. Organize it

  3. Put it on display

These may represent the basics, but the design of wayfinding systems is much more intuitive. Anyone can slap a few words on a sign, but only those who truly understand the science behind their design will create something more.

How the Brain Reacts to Signs

Most people appreciate signs, but they don’t exactly understand how they interact with them.

Why is a stop sign red? The answer is simple: red is an attention-grabbing color, and the message displayed on a stop sign needs catch a person’s eye quickly in order to be effective. Conversely, green and blue informational road signs are colored that way so as not to disturb drivers while they are on the road.

It’s these small but potent changes to a sign that can drastically change how a person interacts with it.

How Wayfinding Signs are Designed to Interact with Viewers

Color is only one of the tools designers of wayfinding and directional signs use to effectively convey information. Some other types of design choices include:

  • Typeface: keeping fonts easy to read using consistent height, size, weight and spacing as well as easily recognizable letterforms.
  • Orientation: people need to have a frame of reference as to where they are before they can figure out how to get to where they are going.
  • Landmarks: notify readers of easy-to-spot landmarks that can help guide them to where they are going.

Keep it Simple and Informative

People should never have to think when looking at directional signage. Wayfinding signs should be easy to understand and show only what information is needed. Use concise messaging and remove all unnecessary information in order to create the most useful signs.

It’s a Science and an Art

At Encompass Signs, we understand that wayfinding signage should not only inform, it should look great, too. Our designers understand the science behind the design, and they also have created some amazing sign systems that match the style and tone of their surroundings.

Whether you are looking for signs for your building, or if you are working on a building design for your client, Encompass can help you with all of your wayfinding and directory signage systems.

Contact Us Today!

We will be at the SEGD NEXPO Conference in Seattle from June 9th to the 11th! Come and see us at booth #611. If you can’t make it, feel free to reach out to our team at any time.