interpretive and visitor orientation signs interpretive signage embodies many crafts including interpretive planning, graphic design, landscape design, structural design and a sense of purpose connecting it with a deeper underlying exprerience.

Interpretive signs and visitor orientation signs: Nature Tourism Services.

Our work on interpretation signs includes all aspects of research, writing, community consultation and graphic design needed in addition to the landscape and structural design solutions as may be required.

Interpretive signs and modern design technologies

With computer nominated controls (CNC) guiding routing, cutting and bending of materials, precision structural solutions utilising a diverse array of materials are within the reach of many interpretive sign budgets.

Allied to this production process, is the fact that graphic design for interpretive signs can now easily embrace large scale Photoshop backdrops without being limited by data storage or handling constraints. Together these two elements combine to open up a world of creative possibilities in terms of signage solutions.

Our inhouse skills cover all pre production aspects of the interpretation sign planning and design process

Central also to this approach is our ability to provide landscape concept solutions that ensure interpretive signage is fully integrated into its surrounding setting in a way that ensures it sits as an integral part of the overall visitor experience.

An example of our holistic approach to signage as an integrated landscape element is shown below in this shot of a minor landscape node along the Aboriginal Cultural Ways Pathway through the East Ballina Aboriginal Place.

large scale projects

A central part of Nature Tourism Services' total quality management approach is the ability to smoothly upscale our interpretation signage design and production processes to meet the demands of major interpretive signage ventures undertaken anywhere across Australia.

indigenous projects

In our experience, indigenous communities commonly value interpretive signs as a means of sharing appropriate cultural heritage material with visitors to their Country. We value the chance to work with these communities to provide the technical support they need for their endeavours.

 dual season signage

Nature Tourism Services helped Falls Creek Alpine Resort develop interpretive signage that allows the resort to quickly and simply change its permanent outdoor signage from summer to winter modes of operation.

QR codes and signage

Our research and development work in creating mobile digital solutions for nature tourism providers allows us to easily and cheaply integrate a digital component into our signage work.

This means signage that functions both in a tradition capacity as a prime content delivery medium, while also offering visitors a portal into a richer online experience.

This approach delivers content in a web app format via the internet browser on the visitor's mobile phone. It means that they do not need to download an app to access the content. Rather all they need do is snap the QR code provided or else enter in a short URL to visit the relevant page.

Delivering content via the mobile phone or tablet's internet browser, also means that it can be translated on the fly by the user into their preferred language and that it is accessible to all user irrepsective of their choice of operating system (OS, Android etc).

Further details on our digital product are provided in the digital section of our website. The examples shown below are presented here to focus on the signage interface of this technology. Click on the images below to view the associated web app connection.

Signage at the Three Sisters links to the precinct's smartphone guide

Interpretive signage at Stockton Wave Battery links to a supporting web portal

Signage along the Towers Hill Walk at Charters Towers has a supporting body of online material

The orientation signage at Falls Creek relies on the supporting user guide web-app we developed

The interpretive signage we did along the Coastal Recreational Path uses QR codes to link to video message content

An onsite webapp page provides multi lingual content at the Three Sisters

INTEGRATING TEXT AND GRAPHICS

A feature of all our graphic design work on interpretation signage is the way in which we create customised backdrops for each sign in Photoshop prior to adding the text in Indesign. In this way the graphics derive directly from the combination of the theme being presented and the imagery being used to underpin this. The text then commonly sits as a caption to the graphic material and in this way a tight integration and equality is achieved between text and imagery. To further support this process we commonly use deep etching of images to ensure that the visual element directly relevant to the content being portrayed is clearly presented.

Section from signage at Ash Island, Hunter Wetlands National Park in NSW.

Signage produced in the wake of the 2009 Victorian Black Saturday bushfires

Section from a feature panel on the Great Victorian Railtrail signage

Highlight from the entry signage at Stockton Sandspit, Newcastle, NSW

Kinchega National Park visitor orientation panel

Featuring the profusion of wildflowers on the Western Australian coastline

CONSISTENCY WITHOUT CLONING

While consistency to deliver a coherent brand presence across an interpretation signage ensemble is clearly essential, we always seek to achieve this without resorting to cloning a particular interpretive signage design template across a sign series. We believe it is essential that visitors approach each sign with a sense of encountering new content that is presented in its own unique setting as informed by the relevant messages being conveyed.

This approach does increase the design challenges involved with a given project as every sign in effect becomes an "original" undertaking. The vibrance it delivers to a signage ensemble however more than makes up for this additional creative investment.

One example of our work in this regard comes in the case of a series of eight interpretive signs we produced for the City of Vincent, Perth, WA, in 2011. These signs were located along a 2km stretch of their Wetlands Heritage Trail.

Our designs for the Vincent Wetlands Heritage Trail used a strong line motif to divide the content areas of signs from each other

None of the signs started from a prescriptive template format. Rather they evolved from the nature of the visual material relevant to the panel

The strong white line demarcation was free to move around the design as needed. This then provided a framework for the images

Deep etching of feature images such as the birds ensured that these were clearly highlighted without being lost amidst their backdrop setting

As people move along the trail, each of the signs they encounter has a fresh presence and look that invites a fresh response on their part

The use of heritage maps overlain with the location of the original wetlands helped to give context to the previous extent of the resource

VARIETY OF DESIGN RESPONSES

We do not use standard interpretive sign design templates for our work but rather approach each design job from first principles whereby the content and function of the sign dictates the layout. This variety of responses is reflected in the gallery below featuring 18 different interpretation sign layouts.