Above: Entry signage at the Mungo Meeting Place, Mungo National Park. Created in 2010, the venue presents 3D scanned replicas of Mungo renowned human fossil trackways – the world's largest collection of ice age human fossil footprints. The actual location of the footprints is carefully guarded as part of their preservation program.
Considered landscape settings are the tapestry against which interpretive signs are hung. Addressing one without the other may sometimes be necessary, but such an outcome is always sub-optimal.
Landscapes define the experience on offer whilst interpretation signs help people attribute values and meanings to the encounter.
Along the way, visitor orientation signs exist to guide the visitor and ensure they they can undertake their chosen activity confident of where they are in the landscape and where they are going.
Without this bedrock of visitor security - of people sure their location and positioned within a node that sets them aside from the main visitor flow corridors around them – interpretation signs are of limited utility.
With these features in place however, interpretation signs can then look to determine the signage structural design, sign content and graphic styles needed to communicate their messages effectively.
Below: The entry node to the Wallaces Heritage Trail on the Bogong High Plains in Victoria presents the visitor with both essential orientation material and also interpretive content. The platform was designed to provide a natural congregation point aside from the main road corridor where people can take in the scenery and interpretive content on offer in a secure and relaxed setting.
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.
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 a sample of our interpretation sign designs.
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.
Visitors should approach each interpretation 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 interpretive sign in effect becomes an "original" undertaking.
The vibrance it delivers to an interpretive 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 interpretation signs were located along a 2km stretch of their Wetlands Heritage Trail.
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 interpretive signage work.
This means interpretation signage can function 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. Further detail on all these products is included in the digital section of this website ...
Sometimes large scale interpretation sign projects require new and innovative design solutions to be created.
Othertimes large scale projects may simply involve the design, production and delivery of a large number of conventional signage units.
Nature Tourism Services has extensive experience in delivering both types of these large scale projects for central and also remote locations across Australia. Several such projects are featured here.