Combine Fun and Functionality into Wayfinding Signage Solutions for Zoos
A visit to a zoo can be both educational and lots of fun. Zoos are a great place for children to see animals they would otherwise encounter only in books or through movies, television, or digital media. Wayfinding is a vital component of zoo design since zoos tend to be large, spread-out facilities. There’s much to see and much to do, and people don’t want to miss the best exhibits. The key to maximizing the experiences of visitors is to combine fun and functionality into a zoo’s wayfinding signage solutions.
Project Reference: Cincinnati Zoo and Iams Wellness Center – click to view the case study
Maps and Pathways
To enhance visitor experience, optimize the design of maps and pathways. Each zoo tends to have its own unique theme, or brand. Maps can be designed to reflect that theme, giving visitors an aesthetically pleasing tool to help them find where they want to go. Some zoos make use of fun pathways to specific exhibits that are marked by dots or lines of varying colors. Again, though, the overall theme is consistent throughout. Orientation maps are important in zoos, since new visitors will need to be able to reorient themselves at various points. By combining maps and pathways, wayfinding systems can offer highly effective tools to help people get around while also inspiring a sense of adventure.
Creative Use of Color
Since a significant portion of zoo visitors are children, wayfinding solutions must appeal to them through creative use of color. If a zoo makes use of pathways or trails as part of its wayfinding system, color can be incorporated into these in a fun and pleasing way for both children and adults. The colors used will need to function in the big picture of the zoo’s overall theme or brand. Creativity is a must in zoo wayfinding solutions, and creative use of color as part of the overall design heightens the enjoyment factor for zoo visitors, as they make their way from exhibit to exhibit.
One of the most important components of zoo wayfinding is directional signage. These signs should be sufficiently uniform in their design so that they are easily recognizable by visitors making their way around the zoo. That said, uniformity doesn’t mean skimping on creativity. Directional signage for zoos can be designed in such a way, through color and styling, as to enhance the visual appeal of the facility and people’s overall enjoyment while also providing easy-to-recognize markers that, along with maps, pathways or both, provide the backbone of the zoo’s wayfinding system.
To mark specific exhibits and to impart information for messaging and educational purposes, themed signage is a necessary part of zoo wayfinding systems. This kind of signage can be designed in such a way as to fit in with the overall theme and brand of the facility while also marking specific exhibits, playing up themes associated with those exhibits, and delivering educational information. Themed signage designed for specific exhibits can include depictions – whether shapes, drawings, or both – of animals. Another way to use themed signage is for the zoo’s point-of-entry. This signage must show people the way into the zoo while also giving them a visual sample of what they can expect during their visit.
By combining fun and functionality into zoo wayfinding, zoos ensure that people can more easily find their way around these large and often complex facilities while also having a great time doing it. A zoo provides opportunities for both entertainment and education for people of all ages, and effective, well-designed zoo signage enhances people’s experiences on both fronts while providing a pleasant, unique environment in which to learn.
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