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The Science Of Wayfinding Sign Design: Key Findings From Airport System Case Studies

Wayfinding sign design best practices are constantly evolving. Today, we share key findings from a study published by the Interdisciplinary Journal of Signage and Wayfinding to help Nashville buyers get the most out of their wayfinding sign systems.

Wayfinding Sign Design Research Never Stops In Nashville, TN

Our Nashville sign team is proud to be made up of lifelong learners who are constantly updating their education on signage best practices to better serve you. As members of the Signworld Business alliance, a network of over 330+ sign partners around the country, we’re constantly conferring with partners to learn new tips and tricks of the trade, and we soak up seminars every year at the Signworld convention to stay apprised of any developments and emerging trends.

As part of this commitment to lifelong sign learning, we’re also avid readers of sign industry publications, like the Interdisciplinary Journal of Signage and Wayfinding. This journal in particular is a fantastic resource for sign companies, synthesizing the findings from a variety of academic disciplines (law, planning, engineering, business, art, economics, architecture, landscape architects, graphic design, and more), and putting established best practices to the test in rigorous case studies.

Today, we’re going to share a couple of key findings from one such case study assessing the efficacy of wayfinding sign practices in airports, where finding your way quickly and efficiently is essential.

Wayfinding Sign Tips From The Interdisciplinary Journal Of Signage And Wayfinding

  • Source wayfinding signs from a single provider when possible to improve cohesion. “When talking with the airport management teams in the audit process, it became clear that a large number of signage suppliers end up being used for airports,” writes study author Symonds (2017, p. 66). The same is often true of Nashville businesses, and not for the better. “This results in a complete mismatch of signage in terms of a lack of standardised set of family fonts and design standards.”To get around this issue, you have two options. First, you can develop a design template to submit to each different supplier, but this only works when they have access to the same technology, typefaces, and color-matching capabilities. For better wayfinding sign cohesion, try to source your entire order from a single provider. This not only ensures design consistency, but also makes the entire process more efficient for all parties. If you choose carefully, you won’t limit your selection, either—for instance, we have access to the collective wayfinding sign catalogs of more than 330 partners across the country!
  • Steer clear of wayfinding sign clustering. Just because wayfinding signs work together doesn’t mean they need to be clumped together. In fact, clustering wayfinding signs appeared to reduce their effectiveness in Symonds’ (2017) case study, as they tended to “compete spatially with each other” (p. 66). Clustering also turns the value of sign cohesion against you, as signs with similar elements start to blend together and disorient the viewer, rather than acting as “through-lines” in a visually complex space.For best results, Symonds recommends creating specific areas within your sign system for each signage type. Rather than clustering advertising signs next to wayfinding signs, for instance, you might focus wayfinding signs on the ground (e.g. floor graphics/directional arrows), while using point-of-sale displays or hanging signs to advertise products and services. This simple division makes the wayfinding system must easier to use, while never detracting from the impact of your in-store advertising.

Free Wayfinding Sign Consultations In Nashville, TN

MetroCenter Signworks is a leading provider of wayfinding sign services and custom sign products throughout Nashville and the surrounding areas, including Spring Hill, Portland, Ridgetop, Smyrna, Dickson, Columbia, and Brentwood. But our service area extends way beyond Nashville; as members of the Signworld Business Alliance, we also offer wayfinding sign services online for businesses located across the country.

Call 615-649-5003 or visit the MetroCenter Signworks website to book a 100% free consultation with our wayfinding sign team.


Symonds, P. (2017) Wayfinding signage considerations in international airports. Interdisciplinary Journal of Signage and Wayfinding, 1(2): 60-80. Retrieved from