PM Signs - Wayfinding


What Is A Wayfinding Sign?

Wayfinding signs are any type of signage that gives a person directions and helps them find their way around a new area. They help keep foot traffic steady and help people get out of a building safely and efficiently in case of an emergency. These signs can be placed both indoors and outdoors, and they come in many forms. Wayfinding signs can be found in parking lots, at entrances and exits to a building, above or beside doors, at loading docks, in reception areas, at utilities like washrooms and stairs, etc.

How Big Is It?

Wayfinding signs can come in many shapes and sizes. They can be as small as an exit sign or a plaque beside a door indicating what purpose the room serves, or they can be as large as building maps and centralized outdoor signs that tell people the directions to multiple different buildings. Wayfinding signs can even include large graphics on the floor or wall to help people find their way, such as lines on hospital floors and arrows on walls.

What Is It Made Of?

Wayfinding signs can be made of essentially any material. Various forms of plastic including corrugated plastic are very common, and so is aluminum and brass or copper. Other materials include steel, fiberglass, wood, vinyl, and even glass. Most wayfinding signs will be attached to walls or posts, so they don’t require much framework. Outdoor wayfinding signs that do require a frame will usually be made of aluminum or another coated metal to increase durability and longevity. Each material option for wayfinding signs can be customized, but each will vary in price and manufacturing time.

Why Is This Sign Type Needed?

Wayfinding signs are incredibly important for helping customers, employees, and vendors find their way around a building or outdoor location. Every type of business and location benefits from wayfinding signs. They help visitors feel empowered since they do not need to ask for help finding their way around, and it creates a positive image for the business when done properly. Wayfinding signs are also essential for indicating services, utilities, and expressing warnings and regulations. People need to be able to find exits and emergency equipment quickly, and you need to be able to inform your visitors of potential hazards and the rules of their environment. Proper wayfinding systems prevent people from getting lost and associating negative things with your business, and they improve the flow of foot traffic. No matter what kind of business or property you have, proper wayfinding signage is a must have for being successful.

When Was This Sign Type Invented and Why?

Wayfinding signs have essentially been around since the dawn of civilized humanity. Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations were the first to begin using signage solutions instead of relying only on the stars like the civilizations before them. This was approximately the 300 B.C. era. They used symbols and images to direct people towards destinations and let them know when they arrived. They were also often used to mark locations such as inns and taverns, and services like blacksmiths and other workshops.

In the early 1900s, the automobile created the need for more diverse wayfinding solutions along roads and outdoor public spaces. It wasn’t until 1970 that the focus on directing humans through buildings became relevant. It was important to the founding individuals that people felt more connected to their environments and felt capable of navigating new locations unaided.

Types of Wayfinding Signs

There are four main types of wayfinding signs. Each one serves their own purpose and is placed in different locations. Some are made from pretty standard materials, and others can be customized to a fuller extent. Most wayfinding solutions will require all of the types of signs, so let’s investigate them further.

Identification signs are one type of wayfinding sign. They are used to tell someone where they are and what they will find in that area. These are therefore the first type of wayfinding sign a person will encounter in a new building. This type of wayfinding sign includes standings signs and plaques, and will contain content like “you are here” or indicate what rooms serve what purpose (such as offices and conference rooms).

Another type of wayfinding sign is information signs. These are incredibly useful for navigating a new building as they indicate where services and features are located. These signs will also make people aware of stairs, elevators, washrooms, and more. They can also serve to tell people the hours of operation and can contain rules and guidelines for the location. In outdoor settings, this type of sign is used to indicate visitor vs employee parking and other similar information. These signs are less about finding a destination and instead are useful for telling people information along the way.

Directional signs are the next type of wayfinding sign, and these are the signs most people would think of first when they think about what a wayfinding sign is. These signs can include maps or blueprints of a building, a list of locations with directional areas to guide people in the right direction, and any other form of directional sign you can think of. These signs can be as specific or as vague as a business decides; as long as they steer people in the right direction, they are considered successful.

The final type of wayfinding sign is a warning or regulatory sign. Warning signs are required by law, and they are therefore the most visible type of wayfinding sign. They are used to indicate hazards to the people in a building. Even something as simple as a wet floor sign is included in this category, and it encompasses stairwell signs and fire safety signs as well. Regulatory signs tell people what is and isn’t acceptable in a building. These signs include no smoking signs, employee-only signs, and more.

We should also briefly mention the formatting types of wayfinding signs because there are multiple options. This includes 1-way, 2-way, and 3-way wayfinding signs. 1-way wayfinding signs are those that lay flat against a wall and indicate the direction of a single location or service. 2-way wayfinding signs will be placed perpendicular to a hallway so that the faces are easily viewed by two directions of traffic. This helps people find their way no matter which end of the hall they are coming from. This format also makes important locations more visible from a distance. 3-way wayfinding signs will be used at intersections to help people from all directions know where the important locations are in a building. This is the most efficient form of wayfinding, but this format will also cost a bit more because more materials are required and there are extra graphics/lettering needed for completion.

How Is A Wayfinding Sign Made?

Every type of wayfinding sign will be made in a different way. The manufacturing process depends on the type of wayfinding sign, the graphic elements, and whether or not they are custom pieces or standard wayfinding signs found in every type of location.

What Is the Manufacturing Process Like?

Standard wayfinding signs like washroom signs and stair/elevator access signs will typically be flat sheets made of aluminum. They will be manufactured in bulk and sold on an individual basis. They will be cut via preprogrammed machinery and then will have brackets applied for mounting purposes.

More custom wayfinding signs have a more complicated process. Outdoor signs will need a supporting frame of some kind, whether that is just a metal pole for a parking sign or a full frame with legs for a directional sign in a centralized location. Some wayfinding signs will have a static face that is manufactured and installed in one piece, and others will have removable face components that make it easy to change the names of locations or rooms on an as-needed basis. Each material option for a wayfinding sign will undergo different manufacturing process. Some materials like plastic will need molding, others like metal signs will just need to be cut and treated for weatherproofing if required for outdoor placement. Some signs will only have a couple steps, and other will require the joining of multiple material types and design elements.

Most wayfinding stalls in buildings will be mounted on walls using brackets, so those signs will be fitted with the necessary equipment to make mounting an efficient process when it’s time for installation. This helps professionalize the installation process and always results in a happy client.

How Can Wayfinding Signs Be Customized?

Since many wayfinding signs all require the same type of content, there isn’t much customization that can be done there. Signs must meet regulations for visibility and accessibility for visually impaired individuals, so they cannot be colored or altered in many ways. The best way for you to customize your wayfinding signage is through the material choice. With nearly endless possibilities for materials and combinations, this is the best way for you to get unique pieces scattered throughout the building/location that are both functional and appealing. You also have the opportunity to choose how much content you put on your signs. You can provide maps on strategic walls with the layout of the property or the blueprint of the building floor, or you can simply have directional arrows leading the to way to important locations. The style of sign is also up to you. You can have 1-way, 2-way, or 3-way signs depending on the location they will be placed. 1-way signs placed flat on walls can help identify different rooms, and multi-way signs can help visitors navigate from different directions.

What Is the Price Range?

The price range for wayfinding signs can vary quite dramatically depending on what type of signage you need. Smaller standard pieces like washroom signs will cost less than $30 each, but more sophisticated signs that require multiple materials and custom manufacturing will run into the hundreds and potentially the thousands. Budgeting is extremely important when planning wayfinding solutions for your building or location, because even $30 signs can add up to a significant price tag if enough of them are used.

Our Wayfinding Sign Manufacturing Service

No matter how large or small your wayfinding project, our team at PM Signs wants to help. We have experience with large multi-building projects and smaller scale jobs, so we know exactly what you’ll need at each step of the process. We will gather all the information we need at the start and tour your building/location so we can help you design exactly the right wayfinding solutions for your business.

Our design team will help you decide on the right materials to match your building’s aesthetic and help visitors notice them. Whether you want simple instructions or a complex map, we can help you choose the best way to deliver your wayfinding information. Whether you need many signs to completely reorganize your directional system, or just a couple new pieces to improve the flow of foot traffic and clarify the directions to certain areas, we can help.

Our sign manufacturing team has decades of experience in the industry, so you can be confident in our ability to produce your wayfinding signs with the right materials in a timely fashion. We are dedicated to top performance and fulfilling every goal you have for your business. We’ll even let you tour our facility and view the kind of materials we will use to manufacture your wayfinding signs. If you aren’t sure how best to lay out your wayfinding solution, we will help perfect the navigation system. No matter what you need from our teams, we feel it is our privilege to offer it to you.

Our wayfinding sign manufacturing process ensures that your custom sign is completed on time and without error. Plus, we’ll stick to your budget without fail. We understand how important your sign is to your business, and that’s why your business is important to us.