Finding your way

On this posts I’ll talk a little bit about signage and environmental systems. The objective of this communication system is to give people information of their surroundings in a determined environment.

In order to communicate the information in the most clear way, there are a few rules when designing signage:

  • Communication needs to be clear and comprehensive
  • It should show only relevant information
  • Information should be place in strategic places

Besides this attributes, the typeface used is one of the key factors. It should be easy to read and allow a clear understanding of the message. Sans-serifs are mainly used for this systems (

The signage system I chose to talk (or write about) is from the British Museum. If you are going by bus, finding your way into the museum is quite easy since the bus itself lets you know on which stop to get off.


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Inside the museum finding your way into the different galleries is quite easy, there are signboards are located all over the place so it is easy to see them, although they are subtle and do not overwhelm the spaces. The information is presented in a clean and comprehensive way, showing only what’s necessary. The system uses a Sans-serif typeface which I have not been able to identify (it has a very peculiar W), however I think they use Helvetica in some signboards. Although this is not part of the signage design, the Museum also uses Baskerville for large texts. The system is all in either black or white (mostly black) which might seem a neutral or boring color palette, but in this case is perceived as stylish and elegant as well as creating a soothing contrast with the white-marble walls. If the system had brighter colours this might distract the people inside.


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The maps are really helpful and  clear. They use a colour-coding system so you might easily find what room do you want to visit or just simply to know what is around you. One particular characteristic that I found interesting is that the maps (and the vertical totems that can be found in every room) tells you what interesting objects are in which room, peaking your curiosity or helping you to know where to go in case you are looking for something specific.


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Most of the signages are located above your head, which allows you to look for one without wasting time as you generally look for directions signs either at eye-level or above your head. One weakness is that the signboards are relatively small and are difficult to see from afar, which also applies to the information in them.

Since I’ve been to the museum several times and I had no problem in finding my way to the rooms I already knew. Therefore, the final part of my analysis to test if the museum is easy to navigate was using only the signages to move around (instead of just wondering between exhibitions) and find the rooms I wanted to visit. It was quite easy to move between rooms by just following the signs, like I said before, they are very clear, easy to understand and are located in strategic locations.


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