What is wayfinding signage?

Mark Woolmer

Wayfinding signage is designed to help visitors or business users navigate your site, follow a route, or access facilities. For example, you might see wayfinding fingerposts on retail parks and campuses, directional signs for car parks, or waymarking posts along walking trails.

Some wayfinding signage might be a regulatory requirement, such as warning visitors about areas that are off-limits or cautionary signs about speed limits or pedestrian areas. Still, the core purpose is to ensure anybody using a site, building, or venue can find their way.

The Benefits of Quality Wayfinding Signage

There are countless applications for wayfinding signs, but the primary objective is to make your site easy to use and navigate.

Whether you are erecting directional signs to show visitors where your reception desk is or installing route markers around an outdoor venue, there are several benefits to accessible, clear signs:

  • Accessibility: many customers may wish to avoid steep routes or those with steps, including wheelchair users, delivery drivers with large loads or trollies, and people with pushchairs.
  • Safety: it is essential that vehicles and pedestrians know the correct way to travel to avoid causing backlogs of cars or potential safety issues.
  • Visitor experiences: wayfinding can point the way to reach WCs, changing rooms, parking areas, reception, health and safety staff and emergency personnel. Making it simple for attendees to find the right support can significantly affect their opinion of visiting your site or business.
  • Efficiency: a lack of wayfinding can cause no end of disruption, from delayed meetings to lost visitors and a reliance on staff to help guests find what they are looking for.

Clear wayfinding signage often incorporates logos, colour-coding, or symbols to make it immediately obvious what the sign indicates or the level of difficulty associated with the path.

Directional arrows, speed limit badges, or simple wording such as signs for ‘Exit’, ‘Parking’ or ‘WC’ can all improve the flow of traffic around your site.

Different Types of Wayfinding Signage

Wayfinding is used extensively in public spaces and visitor attractions and can feature any phrasing, text or images that are relevant.

  • Directional signs point to the correct path, whereas confirmational signs confirm that the person is travelling in the right direction or advise how long it will be until they reach their destination.
  • Confirmational signs are often used in airports, for example, indicating how long the walk should take to the designated boarding gate.
  • Informative wayfinding signs provide general information alongside directional advice and can include extra pieces of information that a visitor needs to know about the route.

We will run through the popular wayfinding signage options available from Fitzpatrick Woolmer below to explain where these are most commonly used.

Directional Signs

Directional signage provides the initial impression a customer or visitor encounters when they enter your site or facility and can be designed to match your branding, business style or the theme of a visitor attraction.

Outdoor directional signs are durable, weather resistant and effective, with a variety of styles and designs. Simple hardwood engraved directional signs can show your logo and business or venue name, with an arrow to indicate the right way to find your main entrance.

You can also design vertical directional signs with greater detail, such as the direction to different buildings on a campus.

Fingerposts

Fingerposts are the ideal wayfinding signage if you need to showcase the correct route to multiple places, focal points, or services. Examples include parklands, nature reserves and town centres – with one fingerpost including multiple signs, each pointing to the right direction.

We produce fingerposts in rustic hardwood, powder-coated aluminium, and stainless steel, with a variety of lettering options and a customisable number of directional arms, depending on your requirements.

Ladder Signs

Ladder signs incorporate a range of information within a compact wayfinding sign and have panels stacked above each other to ensure you can convey all the important information.

Low-profile ladder signs are accessible and visible to pedestrians or traffic, and slats can be removable if you need to adjust your signage for different events.

These practical wayfinding signs can be used to show directional information, list the businesses or amenities available on-site, or combine advice with directional arrows, speed limits, opening and closing times and symbols to indicate wheelchair-friendly paths, WCs, and cafes.

Waymarking Discs

Discs are used in outdoor spaces, including adventure parks, lakes, walking routes, cycling trails and bridle paths, with clear, immediately understandable colours, arrows, and text.

Waymarking discs can be fitted on any existing signage, gates, entrance ways or to walls or trees to ensure visitors know how to reach their intended destination or which path to take.

Examples include indicating the right route to take along a cycle path or colour-coded discs and arrows to provide route guidance over a larger green space or parkland.

Waymarking Posts

Waymarkers can incorporate discs as explained above but are suitable for a diverse array of events and sites, with engraved arrows, colours to indicate the route, difficulty level or trail, and added discs or panels.

Outdoor visitor centres can add wildlife symbols to help visitors spot rare native species or erect waymarking posts with icons and arrows.

How to Choose the Correct Wayfinding Signage

With such a broad range of signage options and applications, we can advise you which wayfinding is most suitable for your intended use or how to design your wayfinding signs to meet the needs of your visitors.

There are many considerations, but some of the aspects worth thinking about include the following:

  • Inclusive signage catering to the needs of all visitors, including wheelchair and pushchair users, different age groups, and low-profile signs for visibility from a vehicle or on foot.
  • Lighting for signage, particularly if your site is open later in the evening or year-round.
  • Cultural and language differences, with universally recognised symbols an excellent alternative to text if you need to cater to varied user groups or overseas visitors.

Finally, signage materials are important because your wayfinding will likely be outdoors and exposed to heat, cold, direct sunlight, wind, and rain – professionally manufactured wayfinding signage is designed to last for years and created with durable materials and finishes to remain in good condition regardless of the weather conditions.

If you would like more information about wayfinding signage, how it works, and the models available, please contact Fitzpatrick Woolmer at your convenience.

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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