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Why Do We Need Effective Wayfinding Signs?

On a recent trip to get a permit for one of our clients I had a most frustrating experience finding the Building Department.   This trip proved to me the importance of effective signage and how it makes your life easier and prevents frustration and wasted time. Here is how the day went:

Using my iPhone, I located the Town of Arlington Building Department.  The address was noted as 45 Grove St. Arlington.  Like many, I input the address into my GPS and followed the driving instructions until it indicated You are Here.  Well, I was there, but not sure exactly where there was.  The building I arrived at had little signage and nothing indicated that the Building Department was anywhere on the premises.

Town of Arlington Ma Building Department Exterior

In fact, the building had several inconspicious signs indicating that anything but the Building Department resided there.  A large embedded set of letters indicated that this building was the Arlington Gas Light Company.  Surely kept for historical reasons and in good condition, it’s nice that they kept the history of the building, but totally sent me into a state of confusion. Additionally , there was a sign reading Richard J. Fitzgeral Paint Shop….hmmm, what on earth could that mean?  So, what do you think I did?  I kept driving to the end of the road thinking that my GPS has flipped its lid and was pointing me to the wrong location.  I pulled over and re-looked up the address only to find the same information.  I turned around and tried an approach from the other side, but again, no indication that the Building Department was anywhere in site.  No signs on the front of the building, in the parking lot, or on the side of the building.

Building with No Sign

Still Lost and Looking for A Sign to Tell Me Where I Was

My first thought was to pull into the parking lot that the GPS indicated was at the address.  Upon doing so, I notice a sign that read Permit Parking Only.  No where did anything indicate that there was any parking for the Building Department.  The additional signs throughout the parking lot that read “Permit Only Others Will Be Towed” made me fear that pulling into a spot and parking would land me with a ticket on my windshield or even better, no car when I came out of the building. So, I drove around the parking lot twice looking for any signs that said Building Department parking.  Nothing.
Confusing Parking Lot with No Appropriate Wayfinding Signage

Effective Wayfinding Signs Help You Find the Entrance, Exit and Parking

Becoming frustrated and needing to get this permit done, I did what any good sign person would do….parked in an Authorized Personnel spot and got out of my car to walk around. The GPS said I was there, so it had to be right, right? Once out of my car, I had to figure out which entrance might be a good start to finding what I was looking for. Again no good wayfinding signs here. The side entrance indicated Highway Department only or something, and as you can see from the photos, the front of the building had no indication the Building Department resided there at all.

I walked around to the front entrance and took a chance. Well, what do you know, right inside the door was the building department. And guess what. They had a big beautiful wall sign over the front desk indicating Welcome to Arlington Building Department. How nice! That sign could have been moved outside onto any wall at all on the building and been 100 times more effective!

Effective Wayfinding Solutions for This Location

So, how do we resolve this wayfinding sign dilemma easily and inexpensively? Some simple signage on the building and in the lot would have made my day less aggravating and I would have quickly got in and out of the building with my business done and back to making signs for my happy customers! Here are some suggestions for eliminating this frustration.

1) Add a simple double sided hanging sign at the front entrance of the building indicating the Building Department resided there. This could be a simple scroll bracket with an aluminum panel. For a few hundred dollars, the hundreds of people going to the Building Department would find it easily and quickly.

Sample Imposed Photo with Hanging Aluminum Wayfinding Sign

A simple sign like this is directly in the drivers view from either direction, letting them know that this is where they need to go.

The removal of the Permit Parking Only Sign at the entrance and replacement with Permit Parking and Building Department Parking or, even an additional sign showing Parking for Building Department added on to the existing sign would be super helpful.

Sample Informational Aluminum Parking Lot Sign

As far as parking goes, which still would present an issue once you know where to go, some simple inexpensive aluminum parking signs on galvanized posts would let you know where it is appropriate to park to get where you are going.

Sample Photo with Custom Parking Sign

These simple sign additions would cost the town under $1,000, but would improve the wayfinding for this location greatly. It’s a wonder that a Building Department who deals with sign permits, building and parking regulations and wayfinding issues all the time wouldn’t have taken the time to do something like this. It’s a matter of making the user experience better, eliminating possible road accidents trying to find your way and improving relationships with customers. Effective Wayfinding Signage is important for any municipality or business and should be one of the key focuses of how to improve customer service.

And the Saga Continues….
Well, after that wonderful trip and after meeting with the Building Inspector, I found out that I first had to get the permit and sign approved by the Planning Department….say what? Well, the Planning Department was located at the Town Hall down the road. How convenient …not! Here we go again. I looked up the address on my iPhone, put it in my GPS and proceeded to drive by the Town Hall 3 times…No Sign at the Town Hall…really….that’s a whole story for another day on effective signs. I’ll get back to you on my next blog with suggestions for interior, exterior and parking signs for that location.  The Town Hall was even more frustrating than the Building Department believe it or not!

How Can We Help You Plan and Implement an Effective Wayfinding Sign Program?

If you find that you have difficulty explaining to your customers, employees, delivery personnel where you are, how to get into your building, where to park and more, you need us! With over 15 years of experience in designing sign systems and fabricating signs for all types of businesses, we can help. We can meet with you, assess your situation, make recommended courses of action, design your signs, fabricate and install them. That’s our full-service promise!

Call us today at 1-877-SIGN123 or 978-250-9890. One of our experienced Sign Designers will be happy to help you with your project.

Want to see samples? Learn more and meet with us one on one? Stop by our showroom Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. Easy to get to from Rt. 3 or Rt. 495, we are happy to help!

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