5 Types of Wayfinding Signage Examples: Which is right for you?

Mark Woolmer

Wayfinding signs add charm and visual appeal to any outdoor space but they’re also highly practical. They make it easier for both tourists and locals alike to explore the great outdoors with ease. Whether you’re taking a trip to a nature reserve or spending a Sunday exploring the English countryside, a wayfinding sign can prevent you from getting lost down long, unfamiliar winding roads (don’t worry – it happens to the best of us.)

But wayfinding signs aren’t just useful when exploring nature; modern businesses and other organisations can also make use of wayfinding signs to encourage and direct new customers to their businesses – it’s all about simply choosing the right one.

At Fitzpatrick Woolmer, we offer 5 main types of wayfinding sign examples: fingerposts, directional signs, ladder signs, waymarking discs and waymarking posts. In the following guide, we’re going to take a look at each one in more detail, explore their uses, preferred materials, and where they’re best placed. Let’s get started!

What is a wayfinding sign?

Wayfinding signs are visual aids that assist people in finding their way within unfamiliar spaces such as outdoor spaces, shopping centres, nature reserves, parks, hospitals, or even large corporate or academic campuses.

Different types of wayfinding signs

We offer 5 different types of wayfinding signs, and here’s what you need to know about each one:

Directional signs

Grenadier Directional Sign Beckenham
Grenadier Directional Sign Beckenham

Directional signs can be used to direct passing vehicles or pedestrians to your business, and be customised and designed to reflect your company’s brand identity or brand colours. ‘Directional signs’ is a bit of a catch-all term here; you can opt for ladder signs or traditional metal/wooden directions signs for your business or organisation – it all depends on your own preferences.

Fingerposts

Zoo Wayfinding Fingerpost
Zoo Wayfinding Fingerpost

Another type of wayfinding sign is the traditional fingerpost; fingerposts are taller structures which usually feature a post with several arms pointing in various directions. You’ve probably already encountered fingerposts while out and about in the countryside or exploring England’s villages; fingerposts were basically the pre-modern version of GPS! Dorset’s famous red fingerposts are a perfect example of this, although you can find fingerposts in villages all over Europe.

It’s also common for fingerposts to feature a distance plate at the base with each arm, indicating which direction you can take and how far away it is. These signs can be constructed using either wood, metal or recycled plasticaluminium depending on your requirements, and are ideal for adding an authentic vintage charm to an outdoor space.

Ladder signs

Timber Effect Plastic Wayfinding Ladder Sign
Timber Effect Plastic Wayfinding Ladder Sign

Ladder signs are multi-layered panels that list a range of destinations in one particular area; ladder signs help visitors navigate large spaces quickly and easily, and are ideal for both vehicle users as well as visitors arriving on foot. These outdoor signs are usually made using either timber or wood effect plasticmetal, depending on your own personal preference; both materials offer a distinctive look and feel that truly stands out in an outdoor space.

Waymarking discs

Grenadier Waymarking Discs Beckenham
Grenadier Waymarking Discs Beckenham

Waymarking disks are small circular plaques featuring arrows or other signage that can help visitors or tourists navigate a particular area. Typically, these signs feature a circular marker with directional arrows that can be placed on stiles and fencestrees or fixed onto posts, but they can also be used to indicate cycle paths and footpaths. Waymarking discs are usually constructed from lightweight plastic, allowing them to be easily fixed to any surface.metals such as aluminium or stainless steel for longevity and durability in harsh weather conditions.

Waymarking posts

Wayfinding Post Foxley
Wayfinding Post Foxley

Most commonly made with wood, waymarking posts are upright poles that can be placed strategically to aid visitor navigation, and are typically in outdoor spaces and natural environments. Not only do waymarking posts offer navigational aid, they can also be installed to indicate the presence of a certain animal, or used as a support for smaller navigational maps or tourist information.

Which type of wayfinding sign is best for me?

While there’s no “best” type of wayfinding sign, some types are more suited to certain environments than others. Here are some key considerations to take into account when you’re considering purchasing a wayfinding sign:

Size of the location

It’s important to consider the size of your outdoor space before settling on a wayfinding sign; for example, large corporate parks with multiple buildings could benefit from the installation of a ladder sign; this can indicate where each building is situated, as well as where customers or visitors can park their vehicles or access assistance. On the other hand, a traditional directional sign (complete with a map of the area) might also be useful, although it’s important to consider the readability of your sign for those arriving in vehicles.

Aesthetic and charm

Depending on the atmosphere of your outdoor space, you’ll also want to consider the visual appeal of your wayfinding signs; for example, traditional fingerposts and waymarking posts can add a touch of vintage charm to an outdoor space or garden. However, if you’re going for a more contemporary and corporate look, metal directional signs can be used to direct visitors around your site in style (while also offering enhanced durability against the elements).

Durability

Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that certain materials are better suited for certain climates; if you live somewhere with extreme weather conditions (such as the high winds or heavy rains common in the UK), then it might be worth opting for metal signs which are more resistant to corrosion and damage. However, if you’re looking for something that blends into its environment a bit more subtly, such as a timber fingerpost, then these can be a great option too.

Ultimately, the best wayfinding signs for you will depend on a range of factors, from size and aesthetic to durability and readability; it’s worth taking some time to consider all your options before making a final decision. Don’t forget that you can easily mix and match between different types of wayfinding signs; for example, natural environments or outdoor spaces can make use of both wayfinding posts and wayfinding discs. For ideas for your own business, browse our examples above, or reach out to us on 01634 711 771 for further information.

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Mark Woolmer

Mark Woolmer

With a strong background in art and design, Mark is passionate about the capacity for excellent design as a communication tool, leading the Fitzpatrick Woolmer company and focusing on strategy, business development and continual improvement.

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