Wayfinding Signage at Navy Pier Gets D- Grade

Make no mistake: Navy Pier in Chicago is a great place to visit and a true treasurer of the great city of Chicago. We wish that our city had something to compare to the fun, the beauty and the grandeur of Navy Pier. However, if you plan to go there for business, be prepared to get lost because the wayfinding signage is just flat out terrible.

Five Reasons Why the Navy Pier Wayfinding Signage Gets a D- Grade

  1. No main directory within 100 feet of the main entrance
  2. Directories are attached of the benches off to the side and a camouflage among advertising posters
  3. Directories on the benches are found nearly ¼ of mile down from the entrance
  4. Directional signs are at the edge of the pier and can be confused with fun signs
  5. Business centers/exhibit halls are a mile down the pier with no midway information and directional signage

Before you say, “you’re just being grumpy,” let me assure you, we were not alone in our opinion. While attending the Healthcare Facilities Expo, we ran into and conversed with other lost visitors and exhibitors frustrated and anxious about the inability to find the exhibit hall. The funny thing was, they turned out to be wayfinding professionals from other signage companies, architectural firms and design agencies.

There we all were – ganging together and going on the hunt for some sort of information. Did we have luck getting directions at the obnoxious “Jimmy Buffet Margarittaville on the Pier?” Nope. How about the water taxi ticket booth people? No luck. The only way we found the Navy Pier map directory was when we turned around thinking we walked past it and one of our gang of wayfinding professionals spotted the curved-face directory.

Three Simple Ideas to Improve the Wayfinding Signage at an Affordable Price

  1. Take advantage of the hundreds of vinyl banners overhead on the light posts and put simple wayfinding information on every tenth banner.
  2. Put two directory kiosks within 150 feet of the entrance out in the center of the large walkway – one for fairground activities, the other marked “festival and exhibit halls”
  3. Put two midway point pole-mounted directional signs in the center of the walkway.

That’s all – no need for a huge, complex interactive digital signage solution or a $1 million advertising and exterior signage package – just a few simple additions will bring comfort and confidence to everyone walking the Navy Pier – whether for business or pleasure.

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