Signage: Inspired by Airports and Hotels?!

Sep 17, 2014

I’m a sucker for clear, bold and simple signage. And I spend an extraordinary amount of time on planes and in hotels. I like to know where I’m going without having to squint at any small print, and I hate waiting without knowing why (surprise, surprise!).

Here are some of my favorite signs I came across this summer:

1. Clear and simple labeling. I loved this bold, simple “here is where you parked” sign at Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) that didn’t require me to dash back to my aisle and check where I was. There was no way I was forgetting where my car was after a 12-hour jaunt to Boston and back for a baby shower!

2. Provide key hints. This sign made me laugh. I was staying in a hotel where there were two elevators that were very far apart in the same hallway! No matter where you stood, a sprint was required to catch one before the doors closed. But at least I was forewarned.

3. Manage expectations. I also laughed at this one at 1 AM when wandering around Dulles International Airport after a shuttle broke down that runs between terminals. Starbucks, just four minutes away! And PS there is NOTHING more painful than coming in from a West Coast flight in the middle of the night only to find out you are STILL 2 hours from home because of a broken down shuttle.

4. Create Routines. Atul Gawande wrote The Checklist Manifesto, a wonderful read which is one of my favorites to this day, and airlines have clearly gotten on board. I got a few “looks” when snapping this one. If ever you don’t hear from me for a few weeks, it means I was eventually seized for taking so many illegal photos.

Now let’s apply all this to school buildings!

1. Clear and simple labeling! The photo below remains one of my favorite ways to hang classroom name signs. No more wandering around the school staring at each classroom door.

2. Provide key hints! I love this self-service Missed Work station in a middle school classroom. Missing an assignment? Help yourself!

And here’s something similar at an elementary classroom computer station!

3. Manage Expectations! I’ve come across a lot of good classroom visual calendars that communicate expectations to students.


And this one too!

4. Create Routines! I do love a good classroom checklist. And check out this one a teacher created after reading my book!

How do you and your school use signage?