Adding photos to wayfinding signs

05May11

For the most part, the wayfinding signs that you see in airports, train stations, and other high-traffic venues seem to do a good job of getting you to your destination — assuming you know the name of where you’re going. But what happens when there are multiple exits, each with their own sign, and you don’t know what the specific location is called?

In my experience, this issue comes up the most in large train and subway stations, which usually have more than one way to exit to the street level. If you don’t know the name of the intersection that’s closest to the direction you’re heading, then it’s easy to go out the wrong way. After that, you may have to walk several extra blocks — or even walk through the train station again — to get back on track.

There’s an elegant and fairly inexpensive solution to this problem. When designing the wayfinding signs for a high-traffic hub with multiple exits, add a photo to each sign. The photo could either show the intersection that you’ll be standing at once you go through that exit, or it could focus on the nearest major landmark in the area. That way, people will have an easier time finding the right exit. Aside from making the venue easier to navigate, this approach should cut down on the congestion that would otherwise be caused by people who don’t know which exit to use, thus improving things for regular and first-time visitors alike.



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