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Brief Published: 20 Aug 2020

Free Universal Covid-19 Signage System

Applied Wayfinding

London user experience design studio Applied Wayfinding has developed universal guidelines to help standardise Covid-19 signage and support better messaging in public spaces. The Covid-19 Design Toolkit helps those responsible for shared environments to understand what, when and where to communicate to nudge responsible behaviour and social distancing.

The project was fuelled by the overabundance of differing signage, which is confusing, easy to ignore and lacks authority ­– making it less effective in influencing behaviour. The guidelines are readily accessible to download and royalty-free, so they can be adopted by companies, governments, offices, restaurants and apartment blocks around the world. Sets of icons and adjustable templates are also available for a fee.

The toolkit explains that for signage to be effective, it must communicate in a clear and engaging way; give the virus a visual identity so that people are aware of the presence of a threat; deliver the right message at the right time by staggering information throughout the pedestrian journey; and co-ordinate messaging so that it is consistent and authoritative.

It prescribes using a mix of fast and slow signage, with floor stickers delivering quick messages to consumers on the move, and signs with more text for access points where consumers have time to read. For wall-mounted options, it advises positioning messages at a consistent height to reduce visual clutter and allow pedestrians to follow the signs as they move through a space. 

The wayfinding designers also promote the use of positive language to encourage good behaviour, rather than outright restrictions, to avoid penalising individuals if they need to ‘break’ the rules. For instance, replacing ‘do not sit’ with reminders on the importance of social distancing to allow pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly to sit if they need to.

For product design cues helping to drive social distancing, see Post-Covid Products: Hygiene & Social Distancing, and for inspiration on designing impactful graphics, see Powerful Graphics for Activism & Social Change.

Applied Wayfinding
Applied Wayfinding