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Why reinvent the wheel? The Case for Signage Standards

As a fresh-out-of-college Wayfinding Specialist in an architecture firm, I was challenged by my employer to find “the little jewel” that would make the sign system special. I recall countless hours laboring to create a design that was fresh, new, innovative, something that had never been seen before.

However, this approach seemed to contradict the best interests of our clients. To communicate effectively, a sign must be direct, visible, legible, and easily comprehended. Why was I encouraged to run up design fees in the search for some unique, ornamental detail that added no value and did not improve the functionality of the sign system?

Flash forward several years (OK, more than several, but who is counting?) as Founder of PATHwayfinding I know that my clients see signs and wayfinding as a commodity and there is a good deal of truth to that.

Today, many of the design considerations for healthcare signage is determined by ADA; copy height, stroke to width ratio, style of font, minimum contrast requirements, and numerous other qualifications are all part of the ADA laws for signs.

A sign should be well made and easy to maintain, but most importantly, it must be functional. Custom-designed signs are often more difficult to read, and confuse rather than clarify the process of wayfinding. These signs can be more expensive to fabricate, and more expensive to maintain as well and these “one of a kind” signs” do not improve your wayfinding program.

A wayfinding program based on a simple, clear, easily understood standardized sign design can solve the circulation and navigation of your facility and dramatically improve your visitor and patient experience.

If you would like more information about how a standardized healthcare signage and wayfinding program can benefit your patients, visitors AND your bottom line, please go to and down load our free PDF of: “A Standard for Interior Healthcare Wayfinding” PATH Guidelines.

I am always interested in learning how to improve the wayfinding process and I’d love your feedback! If you have any comments or questions please send me an email or give me a call.

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