Wayfinding is a specialized area of art and design which combines the skills of science, psychology, semiotics and graphic design to produce a piece of information, designed to help the user locate their whereabouts. Drovers Trees are amongst the first examples of a conscious human effort to help direct people along the right path. The tree’s could only be found in the top regions of England and Scotland, yet were planted along the roads and on hills so that cattle farmers could use them as reference points when taking their stock to market in London. This goes back to the natural forms of Wayfinding i researched at the start of this module.
The considerations that have to be made when designing a wayfinding solution has to be first and foremost about it’s suitability geographically. This includes positioning away from the elements to preserve the design solution for as long a period as possible. They also have to fit in with the culture of the surrounding area.
Wayfinding solutions such as the public road signs designed by Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinnear in the 1950’s are designed to be interpreted in as short an amount of time as possible. Meaning clarity is above all the top concern. Writing is sans serif and mostly rendered in capital letters to aid those with accessibility issues such as the partially sighted members of society. Calvert and Kinnear were approached in the 1950’s to produce a house style for the entirety of England’s road signs. It started as an art college project of which Kinnear was the lecturer, and after the success of the commission to resolve the M6 Preston Bypass, their solutions were adopted all over the country.
Directional signs were rendered green, making them instantly visible to travelers. Information is at a minimum and instead of the previous snippet that gave an impression of the area as a whole, the two designers produced the sign to have the location of the viewer at the bottom central point with their destination or possible routes they can take being at the top of the sign. This means attention only has to be paid to the top half.
The most noticeable change from the old system to the new in my opinion is the use of iconographic imagery. Everything was simplified down and colour and shape coding was introduced. From the sign on the right hand side i immediately known that there is a warning that children are about – due to the red border and triangular shape. Other information like school from the other example is unneeded, drivers will instinctively know that there is a school in the area and that they should be careful. The children on the older sign are in silhouette yes, but are much more complex and detailed. The introduction of colour on the modern approach instantly catches your attention, being of much more use than the previous suggestion.