As a creative designer of exhibitions, wayfinding is an important part of my work, but moving from Texas to New England has taken my wayfinding skills to a whole new level. When my family and I ventured into Boston to spend the afternoon hitting a few predetermined sites, this wayfinder was lost and frustrated. No problems on the freeway, but once we got off our exit and headed toward the city with the hustle and bustle of traffic from drivers who knew the way to their destination, one thing was clear, this wasn’t going to be easy.
For those not familiar with Boston, envision windy, one-way cart paths without signs. At times, I saw where I needed to be, but couldn’t get there. My kids were in the back seat pointing out streets after we’d pass them. Needless to say, we were unable to see all the sites we wanted due to my confusion. We headed home early with my wife answering the kids’ incessant whys with “Quiet, your dad is concentrating.”
Exhibition facilities can also be overwhelming for attendees to navigate. Like my trip to Boston, many leave the event without seeing all the valuable takeaways. It’s our job to make the attendees’ experience easier by using legible graphics and simple directional information.
The first touch point for attendees is exterior graphics. It’s important for attendees to know that they have arrived and to create excitement. On the show floor, directional and information signage is more strategic. This usually includes key locations within the exhibition such as registration, exhibition halls and conferences. It should be easily spotted in the form of large banners above eye-level, in high-traffic areas. Typically, information at eye-level includes names, dates, locations and areas of special interest such as keynote speakers.
Here are five more tips to ensure your show’s wayfinding signage is functional:
1. Directional signage should be placed in key locations within the facility by: o Traffic levels o Directional decision making points o How the show is laid out within the building 2. Choose the right font by its legibility and color. 3. Balance wayfinding and themed show graphics (show graphics shouldn’t overshadow the important message of the signage). 4. Less is more when it comes to content (attendees don’t want information overload). 5. Consistency in graphic layout and vocabulary are keys to a comfortable environment.
Leveraging the facilities’ directional signage minimizes visual clutter, but be careful for repetitiveness. A well thought out wayfinding method can greatly enhance the attendee’s on-site experience and bring a higher ROI for those making the journey to the exhibition. As for Boston, we will take the train in next time and forgo the labyrinth of one ways and no left turns.
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