When one thinks of signage, the importance of signage in branding and marketing is always at the front of the mind. One aspect lesser thought of is how directional signs are important for tourists.
Directional signs? What are they?
Primarily used in urban settings, these are signs one sees directing people towards specific areas and places. Think of large signs in airports, subway stations and on highways. They are clearly visible signs placed in high-traffic areas, giving information about getting around a certain location.
Why directional signs important for tourists?
Directional signs, also known as wayfinding signs, help people navigate unfamiliar territory without getting lost. People finding their way across crowded cities, highways, hospitals, subways, and airports can easily take wrong a wrong turn and end up far away from where they actually need to be which is where the wayfinding signs come in use.
For tourists, navigational signs present a sense of security and well-being. Human nature prioritizes visual cues and large signs offering guidance will always reduce stress for people in the new, unexplored territory.
Where are they placed?
Directional signs are always placed high overhead. If the signs are placed indoor, they are suspended from ceilings and when outdoors, they form a bridge across a road. This placement ensures that tourists unfamiliar with their surroundings can easily see where they need to go.
Tourists in a new place will be able to navigate with the help of these signs even from afar because they are placed at a height where 1” letters can be read from 40’ away. This means in large, crowded places like airports and busy streets, letters as big as 12” can be read from a great distance.
These cues help people create a “map” of their surroundings and simplify their routes as much as possible. This is how travelers feel a sense of comfort wandering the retail section in airports before heading to their boarding gate or visit the restroom just before the flight is announced.
Directional signs speak a universal language
Directional signs in public spaces are catering to millions of people, many of whom may not be local. This is why all directional signs that cater to tourists are bi-lingual. They give information in the local language and English.
There are three fonts which are used for standard English letters on navigational signs, all without extra strokes or lines on the letters to make them legible for people with reading difficulties.
More important than the words that are written on directional signs are the are the graphics printed on them. These symbols and images speak to an audience that may not be familiar with any text on the board.
Around the globe, navigational signs preempt language barriers by using standardized colors and symbols, so travelers will always be able to find their way around airports, subway stations, and a city.
By their very nature, directional signs are designed for tourists. They direct people towards their destination in a manner that reduces stress and makes navigation outdoors or within buildings easy.