Help Your Visitors Find Their Way With Quality Wayfinding And Directional Signs For Your Premises
The primary responsibility of any business is to ensure their staff, visitors, and clients have a positive experience. This is why business owners develop extensive policies and procedures for their business and train employees on how to handle clients. But did you know that your potential customers can have a bad experience with your company even before they get into your premises?
In this era, no one wants to have to stop to ask for directions; that’s why GPS and map tools on your mobile phone are so popular. However, that simply won’t help inside an office complex, shopping centre, educational facility or any other large-scale building that has endless rooms and paths! No matter how excellent the services you offer are, if you have not taken care to give proper directions to the visitors to your site, chances are that you’ll end up frustrating people and even lose business. The single most effective means of making sure that your visitors do not get lost on your premises is through the proper usage of wayfinding and directional signs.
What Exactly Are Wayfinding And Directional Signs?
Wayfinding and the directional signs exist to assist visitors in finding their way around large, and often confusing, spaces. They often encompass multiple different types of signs in a ‘series’, each designed to maximise visibility and legibility depending on where the viewer is positioned. This provides viewers with the most effective ways of navigating a complex environment based on their current needs. Since they are specifically designed to be easy to understand, they help give your visitors confidence when moving around your internal and external premises.
Who Needs Wayfinding and Directional Signage Services?
These types of signs are found pretty much everywhere you look, and chances are you might not have enough thought about it or noticed them. Educational facilities such as universities and schools that have vast numbers of different buildings that students must navigate to and from often have complex suites of wayfinding signage, as well as shopping complexes, airports, apartment buildings and offices, and even public spaces and walking trails! You come across wayfinding in your daily life almost constantly.
You may also need to keep your existing wayfinding up-to-date if layouts of your facility have changed, to ensure that it’s still possible for new visitors to navigate and reach their destination with ease. Sometimes, it may be necessary for a wayfinding audit to be conducted, to ascertain whether the existing system is actually sufficient or not. These audits can determine whether more (or different) signs are necessary, and whether there are redundant signs that could be repurposed for more appropriate uses.
It’s important that at any given time, your visitors know where they are, where they’re trying to get to, and how to best get there.
Common Types of Wayfinding Explained
When looking at the different types of wayfinding signage, you need to consider what you’re trying to accomplish with that sign, and how you want to communicate the information. Much of this can be achieved through using some fairly standard types of wayfinding signage, and these can be produced using a myriad of different materials and production methods based on your aesthetic, your budget, and your desired longevity.
The most commonly used types of directional signs that you’ll find in most signage suites are listed below. These signs are just basic descriptors and the actual design of them can be as varied as you can possibly imagine.
Blade Signs (External)
Mounted to a freestanding pole or post, blade signs are what you see every day on roads and in high-traffic public spaces. The individual blades each are orientated in the direction of the listed area, making them simple to understand and efficient at providing sets of directional data quickly. You don’t need to use the standard streetblade extrusion seen on road signs if it seems boring and restrictive; these can be designed and manufactured to your custom requirements, or existing modular sign systems can be used to suit.
Directories (Internal and External)
Directories can come in almost any size, shape, or format, from freestanding signs to wall mounted boards. Their purpose is to display as complete of a listing of all available ‘targets’ and their locations as possible, and these ‘targets’ could be businesses within a facility, rooms in a building, buildings in a campus, or any other subset of available choices from a given type of premises. These can be accompanied by a map and key if required by the circumstance which can be very helpful if there are lots of possible rooms or businesses that could be entered accidentally.
Wall Mounted or Hanging Directional Panels (Internal and External)
Directional panels serve the sole purpose of pointing a viewer in a specific direction for the room or building that they’re looking for. You’ll commonly see these in places like hospitals, hotels or apartment buildings that need to direct viewers to a single numbered room out of many possibilities, but they can be used in far more situations than just this.
These are best positioned at junctures where there are multiple options that lead in different directions (like T-intersections or ends of corridors).
With all of these options, modular choices or designs that are split into separate (often removable / replaceable) panels are great for future planning, as they allow the signage to be updated when things need to be changed. Items can be removed or added with ease, all while keeping consistent with the aesthetics.
Next, we’ll look at some common material choices for both the sign substrate itself, and for the graphics on the sign.
One of the most widely used material choices for wayfinding signage is aluminium. Satin anodised aluminium is commonly found internally in sign systems thanks to its sleek, professional look. Fabricated, 2-pak painted aluminium is favoured for both internal and external wayfinding where a durable, custom build is needed.
Often used for sign posts and frames where aluminium extrusion is not sufficient, steel is also sometimes used on internal wayfinding and other signage applications in its linished stainless format. It can be expensive, and less easily worked with than aluminium, and so may only suit very specific uses.
For a lower-cost, extremely versatile product, ACM is great for more basic wayfinding signs. ACM has a bad reputation thanks to its incorrect usage in building cladding, but for small-scale signage both the standard ACM and also the fire-rated ACM are good options.
Acrylic is also another lower-cost yet extremely versatile solution. As thicker sheet can be used, and it can also be fabricated and/or painted, acrylic can make a great base for things like wall mounted directional panels.
Of course, there are far more unique options such as brass, timber, and specialty products like Corian that can be used to great effect in wayfinding signage. These will attract a more premium price and can sometimes be out of reach for one-off single signs, however as part of a full rebrand or rollout can be highly effective.
For graphic options on wayfinding signage, simplicity is often key. As the text needs to be legible from various viewing distances, you want them to be clear, durable so they retain readability over the years, and if possible (and if the situation demands it) not easily vandalised. You might prefer to have the text removable so they can be changed later down the track.
Computer cut self adhesive vinyl (or SAV) is the bread and butter of most signage. It comes in a huge variety of possible colours, with products ranging from short term to long term options suitable for different environments. As the edges are cleanly cut by computer, the graphics are always crisp, making them perfect on wayfinding signs. Vinyl can be laid on almost every type of sign, and while it is considered a more-or-less permanent option, the graphics can be removed using a heat-gun to allow for updating text. Unfortunately it also means that vandals can damage the text by picking at it. For a longer lasting approach, vinyl can be laid underneath a painted clear coat which makes vandalising the text considerably more difficult (though not impossible).
Print graphics, either direct to the panel or on digital print media that is then laid to the substrate, are a popular choice as they allow for high complexity of details and full-colour photographic imagery that cannot be attained through cut vinyl. On wayfinding signage, print graphics are usually used for maps and other supporting images. The downside to print graphics is that the inks will fade over time, especially if a UV laminate is not used. It’s best to use this in combination with other types of graphics to ensure longevity of the sign.
Mask and spray painted graphics
While vinyl graphics have a long life span, the method that will give you the greatest longevity is mask and spray. This technique uses a combination of computer cut masking vinyl and industrial or automotive grade paints to create beautiful high-impact graphics that cannot be picked off by vandals, have amazing longevity, and can replicate almost any colour imaginable. It is also the most expensive and labour intensive method of applying graphics, but is worth it in the long run.
Our Premium Wayfinding and Directional Signage Services
MPL Signage is committed to offering the best end-to-end wayfinding and directional sign service possible. To do this, we provide the following 4 processes, or any required subset of these processes, to help your organisation get the most from your wayfinding.
Audit and Project Management
Wayfinding without any underlying knowledge about the flow of traffic on the site is pointless, and can even lead to more confusion rather than less. By conducting detailed audits of the premises to determine routes and flow of traffic, blindspots, effective sign locations, and redundancies in existing wayfinding, we can make navigation a much simpler task. This can be done to existing wayfinding to identify issues, or to whole new sites that are yet to have a directional system employed. We can also oversee the process of design, manufacture and installation of the sign system if your organisation has existing contractors that you wish to utilise for the works.
Graphic and Industrial Design
Working in tandem with your representatives and existing corporate style, we can develop the full signage suite for your wayfinding. This can include the visual design, and also the shop drawings, ensuring that any future additions to the wayfinding signage at your site maintains consistency across the board.
Based on the designs produced (either by us, or from an existing set of drawings), we can manufacture the wayfinding signage to your specifications. Where budget restraints are an issue, we can also help to ‘value engineer’ the signs to maintain aesthetics and build quality but altering the materials or the methodology to suit.
Lastly, we can install the wayfinding signage to your premises. As part of our full suite of services, we produce installation plans alongside the shop drawings which dictate where the signs are located, how they’re orientated. All of this is signed off prior to install so that you can be sure that the signs match up to your expectations. Where planning permits are required, we can assist with this as well.
So, no matter what your wayfinding needs are, MPL Signage can help. From a 1-off panel on a wall to a full facility of signs, we have the expertise to get you sorted. Get in touch with us today to discuss your needs and book an onsite appointment!