The Design of Airport Signage


While traveling through Schiphol Airport a month ago I couldn’t stop but notice how clear all the signage was. I remembered having an college about a few years ago. Mijksenaar has been responsible for signage at Schiphol Airport since 1990.


When designing signage for a Airport or a other public building you have to take a good notice of the visual surroundings the signage will be placed in. The backgound colors of walls and windows, the amount daylight let in the building, the lighting and more environmental elements are important when designing signage for a aiport. In a visual crowed environment it is important that signage design stands out to its background, for a maximum effect. Use a color system with not to many variations and be consistant with the color usage. Think about using illumnated signs to enhanche the readability of the signage.

Colors are coupled to certain types of information. Yellow signs provide information on arrivals and departures, for example, while blue signs refer to shopping and restaurant-café facilities, anthracite to waiting areas, and green to escape routes.

Mijksenaar used the following Principles for designing the signage:

  • Good contrast of bright yellow and green colored signs in a neutral environment
  • The use of circular black arrows in a white circle, which contrast with a colored background
  • Illuminated lightboxes placed throughout the area
  • Consistency of highly visible suspended signs viewable from a great distance
  • Signs located in the center of the flow and not to the side
  • Signs perpendicular, rather than parallel, to the flow

Mijksenaar stressed that font, color coding and pictograms should be considered only after research has been completed, and the system has been mapped out in the most efficient, sensible way possible. He suggests the following for effective use of design elements:

  • Color coding: Color should make sense and clearly communicate an information category.
  • Terminology: Assume that visitors know nothing about the facility and use terminology that is easily understandable to everyone.
  • Fonts: Don’t use more than one font, and stick to such sans-serif typefaces as Frutiger, Clearview, Gill or Meta.
  • Pictograms: Don’t rely too much on pictograms; supplement with text, especially with less familiar functions.

9 Responses to “The Design of Airport Signage”

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