Top Trends in Wayfinding Signage

Forget the days of old maps on the wall or numbers directing people around a building, parking lot, or tradeshow. And remember when arrows were used to help people find their way around the airport? Not anymore. Wayfinding signage has become art and what people might even consider pop culture while still giving important directions to guide people to their destination. More often we are seeing companies, tradeshows, and events want unique looks for their wayfinding signage. A handful of trends have emerged over the past years that are here to stay. From offering events more cost-effective solutions to their short-term wayfinding signage, to creating better ways for people to remember where they need to go—here are the top trends in wayfinding signage to consider when creating your next system:

  1. Glow in the dark graphics

    Glow- in- the-dark-graphics is one of the newest and coolest trends in wayfinding. Used to help keep people follow directions in dimly lit areas, glow-in- the-dark graphics have emerged onto the wayfinding signage scene in a big way. Done correctly, it offers an easy way for people to find their way in dark areas, such as evening events or parking lots. This trend is widely used in locations that are poorly lit, very large, and frequented by many visitors after the sun goes down. For example, an outdoor sporting event will utilize glow-in-the-dark graphics with large arrows, words, or even pictures to give visitors an easier way to navigate the experience. Glow-in-the-dark graphics for wayfinding can also prevent clustering of people by giving them a quick, bright visual in dark places to find their way and move along. The sensory receptors we have in our brains are triggered by colors and this has the effect of what in wayfinding is termed ‘environmental differentiation’. In other words, this means we are able to differentiate different parts of the environment in such a way that we can better remember and find different areas or locations within a given space.

    Glow- in-the-dark graphics, like Jessup’s Glo Brite® graphics media, uses photoluminescent properties. Photoluminescent technology offers one of the only non-radioactive, glow- in- the-dark options that can also boast zero energy consumption and zero maintenance needs with a green and sustainable alternative design. Glow-in-the-dark graphics using photoluminescent properties, work completely off the light they absorb. It can take well over 12 hours of total darkness before they lose their illumination, making it a great option to consider for dark areas needing wayfinding signage.

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  3. 3D Graphics

    If you want to create an engaging experience, look no further than using 3D graphics media for your wayfinding signage. It is sure to get photographed and shared on social media. Not to mention, you can easily use 3D graphics cut to specific shapes that follow a theme and place them on the floor to mark specific areas and include information for wayfinding system. Using 3D graphics for wayfinding can be made into a very fun (and functional) way for visitors to take in artwork and get to where they want to be. Well-designed 3D graphic wayfinding signage systems can enhance user experience while providing a pleasant, unique environment.

    3D graphics media, like Jessup’s newest specialty media Matador™ can be used for short and medium term indoor wayfinding signage systems. This product consists of a translucent vinyl with graphics printed on the reverse side to protect the printed image. A white and clear non-slip backer is available for a non-slip surface. This system does not use adhesive so the graphics can be easily moved to accommodate updates in your wayfinding signage. Adding 3D effects to your wayfinding signage definitely offers a memorable experience for your visitors and is a trend we only expect to see a lot more of in the future in locations like tradeshows, indoor sporting functions, or special events.

  4. Outdoor specialty graphics

    Outdoor specialty graphics that conforms to uneven outdoor surfaces such as asphalt, cement and paving bricks on trend right now and for good reason. From keeping people entertained, to being able to offer non-slip safety on the ground, and of course directing everyone to where they want to be. Outdoor specialty graphics offer a great way to set up your wayfinding system. Highly popular for marathons, outdoor concerts, fairs, community areas, and even around large cities, outdoor specialty graphics offer an engaging and inexpensive way to help people get to where they need to be. Some of the top reasons specialty graphics are on trend for wayfinding signage include:

    • Cost Effective—from having a one-time event to needing a more permanent solution, outdoor ground graphics are a great option because they are cost-effective. You can take a great concept and with outdoor specialty graphics implement it for a reasonable price. Not to mention installation and removal is generally inexpensive, meaning all the savings back to you.
    • Non-slip properties—one of the top benefits of outdoor specialty graphics is the products ability to provide a non-slip flooring. Being pummeled with the weather doesn’t affect non-slip outdoor graphics media like Jessup’s Asphalt Art®, which is just one of the reasons it is so popular for outdoor concerts, sporting events, and outdoor stair wayfinding signage
    • Create art while offering directions—An example of this is a project in New York City at 85 Broad Street, where a map inspired by British Army officer and cartographer Bernard Ratzer’s, “The Plan of the City of New York in North America”, was laid out using Jessup’s Asphalt Art® material. The goal was to add excitement to the building’s plaza and arcade, while giving the neighborhood wayfinding and connection to its surroundings with the conversational piece. The sidewalk art uses outdoor specialty graphics and does a great job of connecting various landmarks around the area for pedestrians. This impressive piece was printed on Jessup’s proprietary material Asphalt Art® and each panel measures 4’ x 13’, covering over 32,000 square feet.

    The main place we see outdoor graphics being used are on sidewalks, outdoor stairs, and streets and the sides of buildings. Because of its durability, Asphalt Art® is able to conform to rough, untreated surfaces like stone, brick, and cement. Our Asphalt Art specialty graphics media are easy to apply and remove and can withstand heavy pedestrian traffic, making them a great short-term wayfinding solution for large events or even a longer-term solution (up to 12 months) of outdoor wayfinding.

  5. Reusable Foam Mesh Graphics

    One of the newest trends in wayfinding signage to report on is reusable foam mesh graphics. Reusable foam mesh graphics create an unexpected and attention-grabbing addition to wayfinding signage systems, both short and long-term. Some of the top reasons to consider using reusable foam mesh graphics media like Jessup’s Softwalk® graphics media for wayfinding include:

    • Water wayfinding systems (due to their floating capabilities)
    • Reusable— making it great for multiple events
    • Can be used both indoors or outdoors
    • Perfect for most any wall or walking surface
    • Can be die cut into any shape needed

    How will you choose to make reusable soft mesh part of your wayfinding signage systems?

    When following any of these trends, be sure to keep in mind the most effective wayfinding systems all share some common characteristics:

    • They come as second nature to the reader
    • They are consistently visually pleasing with clear, concise verbiage
    • Do not show unnecessary information
    • They utilize a hierarchy when necessary

    The biggest tip we can give our clients when it comes to creating or updating their wayfinding systems is to make sure the material you are choosing is the best fit for the space you are putting it on to get the biggest bang and best quality for your buck. Consult with your Jessup’s representative and they will be able to guide you to the best material choices for your wayfinding signage requirements. Remember, the more complex the location or higher the population of first-time visitors, the more important it is to have crystal clear wayfinding signage and systems in place. If the wayfinding signage implemented is not recognized or understood by the majority of people, it can be an utter disaster of people not knowing what to do, where to do it, and wasting a lot of time (and dollars for your resources to tell them what to do and where to go). Have fun using these top trends and create new, engaging, and memorable wayfinding signage systems in the process!

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