By Sau-Fun Mo, Head of Design and Presentation
Around the world, we are seeing countries and cities slowly easing restrictions that were put in place to control and minimise the spread of a highly dangerous virus. We have yet to understand the full scale of the impact that this killer virus will have on our economy, our children’s education, employment and sadly, the loss of loved ones.
After several weeks of lockdown in the safety of our own homes, children, adults, employees and customers alike are cautiously stepping back into the real world. In order to try and get back to some kind of normality, we will need to adjust our behaviours, interactions with others, and ways of moving through public spaces by foot, cycle or public transport.
But how do we resume ‘normal’ life and what does it look like?
Retail shops, offices, schools and visitor attractions are gradually beginning or planning to reopen, with the uncertainty of what may be around the corner. However, one thing’s for sure, it’s certainly not going to be like it was before.
New signage and wayfinding systems are going to be an essential part of everyone’s journey, be it for business, school, leisure or essentials. Communication, instruction and interaction are crucial to helping people navigate through this new existence where there is still an uncomfortable amount of fear of contracting the virus. A well designed signage system will help to provide confidence and encourage people to venture out into this new world and resume some kind of new normality.
We are working hard on planning the re-opening of the Museum and thinking about what measures we will need to put in place to ensure that staff and visitors are safe. Questions such as ‘how anxious will visitors feel?’ are yet to be tested and resolved. But whatever the solutions, our aim is to ensure that the visitor experience will not be diluted.
Key objectives that we are taking into account for our new signage and wayfinding system include:
- Adopt consistent messaging that is in keeping with the wider society to ensure that content is familiar and easily understood
- Avoid harsh messages and communicate in a way that is friendly and calm by using design and tone of voice to provide assurance and clear guidance
- Allow for trial and testing of signage to ensure messages are clear which must be adaptable and flexible for changes as required
- Create a safe route around exhibits to avoid bottle necks and to minimise queuing
- Make the signage more engaging by adding symbols or illustrations from our own collection as visual aids to enhance spatial awareness
- Use colours or other visuals that are uplifting, align with the Museum’s personality and will stand out well within the space
- Consider the material, location and scale of these new signs so that they complement the environment
- Create a kit of parts toolkit that is eye-catching and impactful, and can be applied consistently across all of our locations – the Museum, the Depot at Acton, the Shop and eventually the Canteen
- Ensure that all signage meets the ‘We’re Good to Go’ kitemark accreditation standards in order to provide assurance to visitors
- Develop friendly, informative messages for our website, social media, and other digital communications, to let visitors know in advance what to expect when they return
There is still lots to be done and questions to be answered, but we continue to work hard on getting the Museum back on track. Our absolute priority is to ensure that our staff and visitors will feel safe and at ease in this time of uncertainty. We know that a vital part of this is to make sure the signage and hazard tape may be reassuringly be our visitors’ first impression, but that their lasting impression is of the warm welcome and unique personality normally associated with London Transport Museum.