10 Directional Signage Design Guidelines

Directional Signage Design Guidelines: Have you ever stepped into a building or a parking lot and had no sense of where to go? Navigating without any direction can be daunting, putting you in a critical situation. That is where directional signage springs into action and creates a welcoming and convenient environment for potential customers, employees, and visitors.

Directional signage offers your visitors information on the whereabouts of the building. It also adds value to your building and customers in your business, brand, or building.

Moreover, it also helps the customer find their pay and promotes the concept of self-service, which puts less strain on your employees. But how should you design this directional signage to ensure optimal performance?  

In this article, we’ll look at tips that can help you install custom directional signs for your building or update the existing ones.

Directional Signage Design Guidelines

Directional Signage Design Guidelines
Directional Signage Design Guidelines

Understanding the Objective of Directional Signage

Wayfinding signs, more commonly known as directional signage, have a variety of purposes.

Firstly, they help people find directions when they need to reach a certain place. It also helps them to identify a room using the labels. Directional signage also helps visitors adhere to the rules and regulations of the building.

Hence, a strategic and well-researched directional signage design enhances your brand and improves the visual appeal of your building or facility.

Designing Effective Directional Signage

You know how important directional signage is by now. You might even be using it. But, when it comes to the design part, it can get a little tricky. You might be confused about the dos and don’ts of the design, but that’s why we’re here to help you. Here we talk about 10 design tips by a Signage Company NYC that guide you through creating fully functional directional signage while retaining the visual aesthetic.

Keep text minimal

This guideline may be obvious, but it is often looked at. Using the right words that make an impact while keeping the text minimal is crucial for your design. Whether you’re pointing the visitor to a conference room or labeling a room, the information should be as precise and visible as possible.

Theirs is no need to overcomplicate the text. In most cases, a single word can also suffice the purpose.

For instance, if you’re labeling a room where the visitor needs to wear protective clothing, the sign should say something like “Protective clothing required” instead of “Do not enter without protective clothing in this room.” It makes the message clear without using many words and makes it easier for the visitor to read immediately.

Keep design simple

Simplicity goes a long way when it comes to directional signage. You would want your sign to immediately grab the visitor’s attention and quickly give them the information they need.

Hence, it also means avoiding too many design elements or colors which may cause a cognitive overload for the viewer. All these things ultimately make directional signage less visually appealing, nullifying the signage’s purpose.

Instead of complicating the design, use contrasting colors and place the text correctly. Go for a light and dark combination in terms of color, and use a readable font. You can also include some graphics that have a minimal design. That depicts the purpose of the sign.

Consistency and standardization

The directional signage should follow one standard. That means all the fonts, the font size, the graphical elements, the color schemes, and every other design elements should be uniform throughout your facility. This helps to build branding, too and causes less confusion for your visitors.

Use familiar symbols

Your directional signage should have no surprises. Hence, family symbols or pictograms in your building or facility can effectively communicate your message. Some important symbols that are widely recognized are:

  • No smoking pictograms. These have a cigarette symbol with a diagonal slash over the symbol. This directional sign is easy to understand and recognize and does not need additional text.
  • Another widely used symbol is free Wi-Fi. The wedge-shaped symbol is very recognizable, and the sign lets your visitors know that you offer access to free Wi-Fi, which also enhances customer experience.
  • A zigzag stair shape indicates stairs. This signage is very useful in an emergency and helps visitors find their way out easily.

Factors in ADA guidelines

ADA guidelines are the Americans with Disabilities Act which was enacted in 1990. The act focuses on making public spaces accessible to people with disabilities. Hence, factoring in signs concerning the ADA guidelines is extremely important. So, here are some factors you need to take care of while making your directional signage design:

  • Well-proportioned signs and large, readable text
  • Signs should include Braille in addition to English, especially on labels
  • You should use high-contrast colors
  • Signs should have a matte finish
  • Graphical elements on signs should be easy to understand
  • The placement of signs should be at eye-level and readable from a distance

Working your way around these signs on your own can be difficult, which is why an experienced signage company can help you comply with all these guidelines.

Use arrows strategically

Arrows are the backbone of your directional signage. But placing them strategically is very important. Placing these arrows in the wrong place can confuse viewers and confuse them. For instance, an arrow pointing upwards can either mean the floor above or straight ahead.

Instead of straight arrows, you can tweak things and use curves or diagonal arrows to indicate a specific direction.

Include signs at all points

Placing signs at every end or turn in your space is vital. It helps the visitor to travel from one point to another and look for further directions.

Creating a proper trail at all decision points within the building helps the person pave their way. Decision points are the intersection points that give more than one direction to the visitor.

Brand yourself in the directional signage

Including your logo or color scheme in your directional signage is also a great way to brand yourself. It helps people associate the directional signage with your brand, which increases brand equity and enhances the visitor’s perception of your brand.  

Consider surrounding

A well-designed sign can do nothing if placed in the wrong environment. Before you choose a location for your directional signage, see what factors influence the design and make the surroundings more accommodating to the sign.

It would be best to see what background you place the signage on. The signage will most likely get lost if you place it on a colorful mural with different designs. Hence, placing the sign on a plain background that enunciates it is best.

Secondly, you also need to take care of the lighting. The wrong lighting angle can cause glare and mess with visibility. If you’re using outdoor signage, consider using spotlights for them during the night.


We hope this article ‘Directional Signage Design Guidelines‘ will be really helpful for you.

Directional signage is an important part of your facility, business, or building. Our directional signage NYC services offer the best experience for you. With various materials, designs, and years of experience, we help you cultivate the best directional signage that resonates with your brand.

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