People put up signs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they may be to warn of danger or show a direction. In our line of work, we use signs for both of those reasons as well as to share messages we want to express. I like to look for signs when I visit different places to look for inspiration for future signs I will create and to seek out humor in unexpected places. Here are a few signs found along my travels as well as a few contributions from friends.
Some signs can tell us where we are. Many of these may include a map to help you see what your surroundings are. If someone speaks a different language, can they still understand your sign? Way finding signs should include universal symbols that are easy for anyone to understand. Sometimes a sign may let you know when you arrive at your destination. These signs can mean different things to different people. I was happy to see the sign letting me know I had reached the top of Inspiration Point because that meant I had reached the top of the trail and it would start heading down after that point!
Many signs are there to warn us of danger. These messages can be direct in saying “Warning!” or “Caution!” Often a picture is included as a universal language but those drawings can be humorous. Other signs may express the warning in a less direct way but one that still gets the message across. These signs serve the purpose of protecting people as well as protecting sensitive natural areas or wildlife in the area.
When it comes to interpretive signs, there are many aspects to creating the sign. What message do you want people to walk away with? Who is the target audience? Where should this sign be placed? I found this fun sign about poop in the New Orleans Audubon Zoo’s bathroom. I thought this was great placement and had a captured audience. The other sign is a contribution from our adopted member of the Sunny Southeast, Amy Erickson. This sign is all sorts of confusing. It is placed at a trail head but the message is all over the place. Make sure someone looks over your signs before printing and placing signs out for the public. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to confuse the visitors you want to excite about your center.
Whatever reason you create a sign, think about your message. You don’t want people to ask “What are you saying?”