Professional Wayfaring Signage: Why Clean, Clear And Easy-To-Read Signs Are So Important
City council members in Bridgton, Maine, wanted a unique and handcrafted look to their wayfaring signs, which were planned to point the way to the town's local attractions. So they rejected a bid from a local sign company and hired an area artist to hand paint directional signs -- at 6 times the cost.
When the signs were partially delivered weeks after they were supposed to be, another area sign professional reviewed the signs and explained how they were not designed professionally or finished properly for durability. Now, the city is on the hook for the $30,000+ cost, and may need to have the signs redone.
If you're planning professional wayfaring signage, you can take some lessons from the Bridgton fiasco and get the work done right. Here are some top considerations:
1. The number one goal of wayfaring signs is to show direction.
Wayfaring signs are not places to be wildly creative or different. The signs need to be very clear and in some cases must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which means that character height, proportion and even color for certain types of wayfaring signs (primarily interior) must meet specific guidelines.
Regardless of whether you legally must follow ADA laws, it's a good idea to make sure your signage is legible for all types of users. That means a professional with an understanding of sign readability should design or at least review the design to ensure it meets these standards.
2. The more durable the sign, the better.
Signage that is to be installed outdoors should be finished in such a way that it will resist fading and corrosion. Sometimes it's not evident that signage has not been properly and professionally finished until it has been mounted for a year or two; in that case, you may be too late to have it altered or replaced by the original company.
Before you have the signage made, talk to your professional sign company about how the sign will be finished. Your signmaker should ask about the location and take measurements as well as review the weather conditions that will impact the signage.
3. Type style and character style matter.
One of the complaints about the artist's signs in the Bridgton case were that she used a typeface and arrows that were "cartoonish" and not in keeping with the style that the city wanted to convey to visitors. Type style and design do matter in signage. Besides being legible, the right font can look modern, traditional, old-fashioned, casual, etc., so you need to know what you want to communicate.
When in doubt, it's best to select a straight-forward and timeless type face that will hold up for many years. Your designer can show you examples of easy-to-read, classic styles that will work well for signs.
If you have questions about custom wayfaring signs and how they should be designed, talk to Signs In One Day or other local professional sign makers.