Look at this!! Attracting visitors' attentionPosition, Position, Position
The first rule of attracting visitor attention is to ensure signs are placed where they will be seen. To do this, you will need to have some understanding of how visitors move through your attraction. Research in European, Australian and North American settings reveals that the majority of visitors turn left when they enter exhibition areas and progress through exhibits from left to right.
Regardless of which way they turn, however, it seems visitors are most likely to stop at signs and displays that are close to the centre of their line of vision. Thus, placing a sign perpendicular to a visitor's line of approach is a much better option than placing a sign parallel to visitor pathways.
One exception to this is when such a sign may interfere with their view of the exhibit or attraction. Indeed, in some places (eg. scenic lookouts) it may be intrusive to place a sign in the centre of the view, particularly if the vista is one that visitors might like to contemplate or photograph. In these situations, signs should be placed within easy viewing distance and the information clearly matched to the feature/s being described.
It is difficult to read signs with bright sunlight behind them - check whether outdoor trails are best walked clockwise or anti-clockwise and whether this varies during the day.
Signs in bright light are easiest to read if they have light coloured lettering on dark backgrounds, while those in darker areas are most visible if they have dark lettering on light backgrounds.
Click on the numbers in the map below to reveal photographs of trail signs. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each sign and provide suggestions for improvements if necessary. Some issues you might like to consider are:
- Use of interpretive techniques
- Positioning of signs
Elements that catch the eyePlacement alone will not attract visitors - content and appearance are also critical. Research indicates that the following characteristics of signs and displays attract attention:
- Extreme things (eg. displays/signs that have very large, loud or colourful elements);
- Movement (eg. displays/signs with interactive sliding panels/ flaps to lift/ buttons to press);
- Example Contrast (eg. elements/items that stand out from the background);
- Items and information which are unexpected or surprising;
- Things that are connected to visitors; and
- Elements that speak directly to visitors.
Do you think this approach enhances visitor learning and involvement? Why/why not? How would you introduce a similar 'trail' through your attraction?