Signposting. Wayfinding. Directional signage. Location. Dimensions. Design. All it does is get you from A to B so how can it be so tricky to get right?!
I am referring to the signs or tools that you offer your customers, guests or visitors so that they can easily and efficiently navigate themselves around your attraction or business. From arrival to exiting and everything in between are you making sure that your visitors are moving round and experiencing your attraction without getting anxious, stressed or annoyed by poor directional information? If you cant tell then usually all you need to do is stand and watch. After just a few minutes on a busy day its usually easy to start spotting visitors who go back on themselves, look around lost or take a longer route when you know there is a shorter path. If this is the case then what can you do?
I like to start at the beginning…a very good place to start. When you get to the start you have to take off your work head! What I mean is that you have to really try and forget that you know the way round your site so well. Remember what it feels like not to know. Walking the visitor journey is going to be something I repeatedly recommend as it can offer real insight about what your visitors see, hear and feel. On arrival there are usually a few messages you are conveying. Probably a welcome of some sort, maybe car parking and safe pedestrian route to the entrance, followed by ticket sales or reception or whatever your point of entry is. At this early stage are you keeping it clear, simple, safe and accurate? If not, identify the leaks and repair them. Its worth it when you consider the impact of having mildly annoyed guests already and they’re not even inside yet! Continue with this principal of ‘not knowing’ around your site and at every junction assess if there is a need for some info or reassurance? If you have a site map or floorplans test these as much as you can afford to before you hit print. Just by asking your family or friends to test run your wayfinding plan can save time, money and complaints at a later date. So walk your guests routes, be in there shoes and create a plan of action to either install your wayfinding or at least fix any leaks in your experience in good time. (P.S before going online to larger design companies your local sign makers can usually offer design, printing and installation services at reasonable prices – more than one quote is key!)
So, lets assume you have your routes established and wayfinding plan in place. Now, I think I’m going to state some fairly obvious guidelines however, in my experience it seems that sometimes even these get forgotten:
- Try not to position your directional signage too high or too low. Too low and it can get easily obscured by other guests, too high and it can get missed or become difficult to read
- Is your font and design keeping it easy to read? Ensure your wayfinding is legible and not over animated as this can make it tricky for guests to know exactly what you’re actually saying
- And whist we’re on design is your wayfinding in keeping with your brand and is it professional? If your sign is in a high traffic area where it may get damaged or weathered over time why not buy a spare so guests will never spot a dilapidated info point. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is there is no excuse for shabby, misspelt signage. And don’t get me started on handwritten!
- Is there a logo for that? If you want to consider international guests who don’t speak English a logo can go a long way to communicate. Logos for toilets are common but could you use a logo for your restaurants? First aid points? Changing Places?
- And finally, complimentary tools. Signs around your attraction are one thing but apps are becoming a more popular way to navigate. Whatever you do keep it up to date! If you close an area for example don’t overlook the information that you give to your guests about any diversions – don’t assume they will figure it out. Help them out.
There are so many more aspects I could talk about such as future proofing your information and staff being living maps however, I’ll save that for another blog. In the meantime, I hope this has been helpful for you and let me know if you have any top tips or things that work well for you. I’d love to hear about it. Yes, I really would!