Posted by Michel on 13.11.2009

Wayfinding signage Burgundy Street Heidelberg

By Michel Verheem

We have just completed a survey for one of the Melbourne councils; they had some urban wayfinding signage installed and wanted to know what people though about it.

The signage was meant to make the locals understand their own neighbourhood better and to encourage them to walk more.

We interviewed 177 people in a shopping street – standing only 4-5 meters away from one of the signs, but only 18% of the respondents mentioned the signage when asked what changes to that area they had noticed.

Even more interesting is that only 20% of the people that had noticed the sign(s) had actually given it a closer look. The most heard comment was along the lines of ‘Why would I, I am from this area’ or ‘I come here all the time’.

There seemed to be little incentive for ‘locals’ to even just check out what is on the signs. We believe that this could be because the design of the signs does not show ‘We may display something that you don’t know you don’t know’.

We think that small design changes could make a difference in how people see the sign, and with that, how they will react. An example of such a possible change would be the addition of the text ‘Did you know that……”.

Now this council is reaching less than 4% of the overall audience – something that could have been avoided by having the design outcomes tested BEFORE implementation. Hooray for evidence based design!



Hi Sander, Thanks for your feedback, good points. We do not have any good quality images of the signs at the moment, but will post them when they become available.



Can you show some more photos of the signs to make better judgements of its placement in the environment. How do you stand on the black background of the sign, does it stand out or blend in? Agreed that adding "Did you know that..." will make a difference, but telling people "Did you know that..." doesn't imply that the sign will be more attractive and people will use it. As from my opinion a urban wayfinding system should tell me: Orientation: Where am I?Information: What can I do in this area?Navigation: How do I get there?Effort: How long does it take me to get there? Looking forward seeing more photos.