Airports are busy places, catering to hundreds, if not thousands of passengers on a daily basis. It is safe to assume these a vast majority of these passengers is not familiar with the sprawling space and need help getting around. This help is provided very capably by signboards at airports.
Signboards at airport all around the world have certain features which have almost become a standard. People need help getting to check-in counters, the correct gate for their flight, getting passport control and to find their baggage and the exit.
Airport signage is there for a purpose – to help passengers get around while saving them time looking for areas they need to be at.
For this reason, the signage is clear, concise and available at a glance so people don’t spend precious time reading fluff.
These signs only show the information needed and nothing extra.
Signage at airports relies on high contrast between background color and letters. A high contrast signboard is visible from a distance and easily readable. These colors are consistent throughout the signs placed around the airport, and the sizes and fonts are the same too.
Almost all signage at airports is bi-lingual. Apart from the native language, airport signs are almost always written in English, which is the second most widely understood language in the world.
Pictograms are pictorial representations of words, and most are now at the same standard around the world. Icons for restrooms, suitcases, elevators, escalators , eating places and wheelchairs mean the same in every language and are universally understood.
This makes it easy for people who have difficulty reading and those who are unfamiliar with English and the native language to understand signs.
Fonts used on signage across airports is consistent. All signs are written in the same font and vary only in size and bold type or regular type.
In an area where people need to move around an unfamiliar area quickly, well-defined, correctly aligned arrows are a must.
Different corridors leading to different sections means a person can lose their way when time is short. That’s why large arrows with clear labelling are a blessing.
Airport signage needs to be clearly visible from a distance, which means not only does the lighting in the space needs to be correct, the signs themselves need to be back-lit too.
When putting up signage, it is important to know how much natural light the area gets and how much of it would need to be lit with bulbs.
In a fast-changing environment, digital signage is a must. With tens of planes taking off and landing daily, the signboards announcing flight schedules need to be updated every few minutes.
While this is not possible with static signage, digital signage steps up the bat with ease. Simply updating the digital display remotely means the information displayed is accurate and timely, which is exactly what is needed at airports.
In fact, digital signs work very well for outdoor areas as well, such as airport parking lots where available spots are clearly shown at the entry of each lane, saving people a lot of time which they would have otherwise spent looking for a spot to park their vehicle.
Where not go and what not to do is especially important knowledge in today’s world where airports are high-risk areas. Clearly labelled signs help people keep away from areas that are not intended for them.
Airports signs are by nature universally understood. However, what makes an airport more user friendly and efficient than others is how these signs are displayed, their clarity and their accuracy. With over 4 billion passengers flying, it stands to reason that the better signage at an airport, the better the passenger experience will be.