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How signs help visitors find their way in parks?

A good park signage system goes a long way. It doesn’t just help people find their way around the park, it also offers effective information, encourages learning experience, communicates the rules of the park, but also maintains the park’s image. If you want to improve your visitor’s experience, you must invest in signage. Signs do meet specific needs but it is best if you keep them to a minimum throughout the park.

If you think signs aren’t important, you might be interested in reading this case. Although it’s not directly related to signs in a park, it’s still significant. A staff editor at the New York Times, Charles DeLaFuent, missed his flight to the West Palm Beach because of poor signage, says The Economist. He could not find his gate.  He says Jet Blue has 2 gates in their concourse which are also used by Continental. Only continental has signs at the security area leading to the 7 gates in Terminal A. The monitors there also showed departures. However, Jet Blue does not have anything to alert its passengers that its gates lie in that concourse also.

Types of signs

So, yes signs are important but how do they help visitors find their way? Signs come in a variety of categories and each serves a different purpose. Such as:

  1. Identification Sign: These signs help a visitor identify where he is. They are meant to display information regarding the location. They mostly contain writings or prints to point out what place you have reached like an elevator, a classroom or even a restroom.
  2. Information Sign: You will see information signs in a park that is home to a building, moment etc. It helps a visitor not just locate his destination but also get him to get acquainted with his surroundings. They tell the visitor which route to follow or which gate to enter.
  3. Directional signs: These signs help a visitor navigate his way through the destination and find what he is looking for. It’s widely used in the wayfinding systems. Usually, an arrow is used to point to a route or direction that will take the visitor to his destination. Such signs are placed in multiple locations throughout a park or facility to help the visitor find a direction.
  4. Maps: Maps are usually placed at the entrance of a park to increase the knowledge of the user and his interest in the park. They don’t just help visitors guide but also find interesting places to visit in the park.
  5. Bulletin boards: As the name suggests, they function as informational boards, making the visitor familiar with the section of the park and its facilities. They play the role of an outreach tool to inform the visitor about the parks, ongoing events, and renovations going in the park.

Location matters

If you want to communicate the message, you have to be very careful in picking the location of the park signage. Maps and kiosks also function as signs. It is good to place signs in conjunction with park amenities like cafes, restrooms, benches etc. This idea is known as triangulation.  All elements functioning together leave a bigger impact when it comes to imparting information.

In areas that have large sections of natural beauty, you can add picnic table along with the sign. Adding directional signs in such locations make people secure. You can also place signs in front of trees, mountains or natural flora to encourage interaction and visitor engagement with the surroundings.

Some myths about signs

Signs surely lead you from point A to point B, but there are lots of misconceptions about the role played by signs and their usage, such as:

  • Signs increase visit success: Yes, signs are important but they cannot make a poor experience better. If the entire experience is disappointing, a good signage system will not help.
  • More signs are always better: Too many signs can increase confusion among your visitors. You can only improve the experience if you have fewer signs that contribute towards clarity. Signs should serve as a compass for your visitors. Don’t flood them with information that will confuse them.
  • Signs aren’t meant for regular visitors: When creating signs, consider your first-time visitor. The ones who are already familiar with a park will not even bother following the signs. Your focus should be on developing such signs that enable your visitors to get from one place to another without relying on signs every time.