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Why Does Effective Wayfinding Signage Need That Expert Touch?

The Sussex Sign Company News and PR from The Sussex Sign Company - Published 07 December 2016 WAYFINDING SIGNAGE
Wayfinding signage presents us with a paradox – if it’s doing its job effectively, it shouldn’t even be noticed by those who use it. Effective signage, therefore, is conspicuous only by its absence, when people realise how much they depend upon wayfinding systems in order to orient and traverse urban spaces. Despite the fact that we rely on signage every day, we remain largely unconscious of the impact that it has on our daily lives.

It would be a mistake to fall into a false sense of security, however. Like many things in the modern world such as smartphones or the internet, it may appear effortless and seamless on the surface, but there’s a huge amount of research, expertise and creativity occurring behind the scenes that goes into producing effective wayfinding systems.

Here we take an expert in-depth look at what wayfinding is, how it’s used and what constitutes an effective wayfinding system. Given the widespread applications of wayfinding in contexts as diverse as airports, hospitals, city centres, universities and shopping malls, the answers to these questions are of note to relevant officials across the public, private and third sectors.

What is Wayfinding?

Wayfinding involves the process of traversing through a given space to a final destination. This process involves a series of steps in order for the traveller to get from where they are to where they want to be. The first step is to work out where one is; this orientation is then used to guide oneself through the space to one’s destination. Wayfinding systems and signage are employed to enhance this experience by providing a series of cues, both subconscious and overt.

These cues act to create nodes throughout the journey to streamline the passage through the space. As a result, the traveller can navigate from node to node with ease until they reach their final destination. For example, a person enters a shopping mall. They want to get to a store on the third floor in the left-hand wing of the building. The first node could be a sign indicating the direction of the stairs or lifts. The second node will be placed outside the lift on the third floor, and additional nodes may be required depending on the length and complexity of the remaining journey.
Effective signage, therefore, is conspicuous only by its absence

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