Directional Signs... Are Your Prospects Getting Lost?

December 15, 2017

So exactly how good is your directional signage?

"Great" you say?

Well, maybe not.

If you really want to get an idea how effective your directional (or way-finding) signage is, consider asking a complete stranger to your facility or business to take a test run.  You may be very surprised by the results. Just give them a few goal points to find and let them loose.

It's easy, if you're on-site everyday, to know exactly where you are at every minute. But what's very familiar to you is very foreign to a stranger.  You've walked these areas thousands of times. But the stranger is there for a first time. That's why it's important to ask a complete stranger to your facility to take some test runs.  They will tell you things you never ever thought of. Things that are very confusing to them (that you had no idea, because you walk these areas daily.)

What got me thinking about this was a recent trip to Las Vegas. This past trip, I stayed at two very large and well-known strip resorts. However, my adventure started at McCarran. Getting off the plane, you obviously only have one direction to go. But once you get inside the terminal, it's information overload. (Just the fact I'm arriving in Las Vegas is enough to make me do handstands and become very inattentive to important things like directions:)

Once inside the terminal, many rely on signage to find where to pick-up their luggage or to find the exit to a taxi or Lyft/Uber (which, by-the-way, the signage for these options is slowly getting better and better at most airports and hotels.)

Overall, McCarran does an excellent job with their way-finding signage. I've had many family members and friends meet me in Vegas, and I've yet to hear any of them complain about getting lost or finding it difficult to reach their destination point.

However, I had mixed feelings about the two different resorts I stayed in my last trip. Since I've stayed at both many many times, I have a pretty good idea how to get to where I'm going. But I'm very direction-challenged. So in these mega-huge resorts, even if I've stayed there 10 times, I still rely on signage to find my way! (My wife gets irritated by this, but I can't help it! Plus all the distractions:)

So at these two resorts, I really tried to note if their directional signs confused me (or how often I got lost.)

Here are the top three:

1) Signage didn't make sense to me or was vague

Often times the directional signage just didn't make sense to me. Sure, if the sign is "Starbucks =>" I get it. But if the sign directs to something that I have no idea about, it's very confusing. Next time I get a chance, I'll take a picture of an example. But the point is, why not make the directional signage completely easy to understand?

2) Signage "pointed" in a direction, but it wasn't clear if it was a "left or right" or a different angle.

So I'm in the sign business. And maybe I'm a little dense (especially in Las Vegas,) but if I'm walking down a main aisle or hallway and there's an overhead sign pointing in a certain direction, it's always a win for me if I can easily follow this direction and end-up  at my destination.  Not so at one of the resorts I stayed at.  I followed the sign and... nothing. Only to find that I had taken a "left," when the directional signage actually meant "take the angled-left." So I went west, but was supposed to go north-west. Ten minutes later after asking someone for help, I finally got back on track.

3) Follow the sign and then??

Many times (not just in the resorts where I was staying) signage points you in a direction and then, after following the direction for a while, you end-up asking directions from someone. In other words, the signage took you in a direction with no immediate instructions. Just left you hanging. But as mentioned above, to the person creating the signage, they may think, follow the signage this way and you'll arrive where you wish to go (after walking another 100 feet and then turning right.)

Well, just my take on it.  Maybe most people have no problems with directional signage. But trust me, I live i a small town, and am asked directions quite regularly. So some directional signage may have been confusing!

Thanks for reading!



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