IDEAS

Signage and wayfinding:
Five tips to navigate your project

Signage and wayfinding is often the first thing someone sees when they enter your space, and it’s always what they look for to find their way through that space. We asked some of our team members for the most important points to consider on a new signage and wayfinding project.

1. Consider
the user first

“Understand the users of your client’s space or brand,” says Chloe Green, one of Diadem’s account managers. “Who are they? What is important to them? What do they need? You can only design something that will solve a problem for a group of users if you fully understand their needs.”

At Diadem, understanding the user means putting ourselves — often literally — in their place. This was one of our first steps to creating system-wide signage and wayfinding for Wellington’s Metlink public transport network. Immersing themselves in the passenger experience allowed Diadem’s team to develop a consistent and easy-to-understand signage and wayfinding strategy that now helps people navigate seamlessly between ferry wharves, train stations and bus stops across the city.

Wellington Metlink

2. Design for
accessibility

Thinking about users means thinking about accessibility and inclusivity. At every stage of developing a signage and wayfinding strategy, we ask how we can ensure a place is useable by the broadest cross-section of society.

“It’s about making sure signage is legible for all users,” says Diadem account manager, Danielle Churton. “From a design point of view, that can mean contrasting messaging with the background, using pictograms in environments where multiple languages are spoken or using tactile signs such as braille.”

Diadem recently delivered a signage and wayfinding strategy for the new NDIA and DHS headquarters in Geelong. With almost 12% of the workforce identifying as having a disability, careful consideration was given to sign locations, forms, colours and digital technology on all floor levels.

National Disability Insurance Agency

3. An extension
of your brand

Signage and wayfinding communicate more than information; it’s a valuable opportunity to communicate elements of your brand.

Diadem’s creative director, Mark Janetzki: “We ask clients, how important is the promotion of their brand in the wayfinding process? What do you want users to remember from their journey? How does their experience align with your brand?”

Signage and wayfinding by Diadem can be found in Mirvac’s Australian shopping centres, and for each, consideration of each centre’s brand informed the design. For example, Sydney’s signs in the Broadway retail centre references the building’s art deco elegance, while the signs of Orion Springfield Central in western Brisbane feature bold pops of colour. In every case, Diadem’s approach to signage and wayfinding is about enhancing the brand and elevating the customer experience.

Mirvac

4. A seamless
experience

The fact is we hardly notice most signs — until we’re lost.

“Customer experiences sometimes focus on wow moments and delighting your customers, but we know that only works if the rest of the experience is as effortless as possible,” notes Diadem creative director Matthew May.

For example, when you visit a stadium, you want to be captivated by the sporting event you’re going to see. But for that to happen, you need to get to the venue, move through security, find your seat, locate the bathroom, queue at the bar, and so on. The importance of efficient signage and wayfinding is that these all need to be almost non-memorable experiences to work.

Diadem is often engaged to help sporting venues and other public spaces with signage and wayfinding to ensure these experiences are as seamless as possible for hundreds of thousands of people, which is why we’re engaged at both the masterplan and design detail level of significant projects.

Melbourne & Olympic Parks

5. Sensitive and
sustainable design

“Just as the user experience is seamless, successful signage and wayfinding should also integrate seamlessly with the architecture, interior design, landscape, lighting and so on,” adds Mike Keen, one of our design managers in New Zealand.

That’s why Diadem is engaged by architectural practices and directly by clients to ensure our work works from an aesthetic and functional perspective. We also collaborate closely with clients to create a signage system that meets their vision and provides long-term value.

For example, our recent signage and wayfinding strategy for Auckland War Memorial Museum was designed to be future-proofed through a panel system. Interchangeable magnetic tiles can be easily replaced when an exhibition layout changes or user journeys are altered.

Auckland War Memorial Museum

At Diadem, we consider every angle.

Successful signage and wayfinding strategies require a multidisciplinary team with a deep understanding of spatial awareness, communication design, product design, architecture, manufacturing and much more.

At Diadem, our integrated service model ensures every element is considered, from strategy and design to installation and maintenance. Talk to us about your next signage and wayfinding project and how we can help guide it to success.

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