How to design signage for a Covid-19 world

With a wave of new signage and wayfinding popping up in the wake of coronavirus, CR investigates what it takes to strike the balance between alarm and reassurance

Signage and wayfinding have taken on a new significance post-lockdown, as businesses of all kinds have had to whip up warning notices and social distancing guidelines. At the beginning these were often cobbled together using whatever was on hand, but as the weeks have gone by, coronavirus-related signage has gradually become more sophisticated.

“When people were starting to go out again, we started to see a lot of signage popping up made using thick markers,” says Beth Novitsky, design director at architecture and design firm Gensler. “What we noticed was that the design of most of it was alarmist – all caps, and a lot of red and yellow, which was appropriate early on, and in a public setting for places where you needed to reach a large audience.

“We started to think about what would be necessary in offices when people went back to work,” she adds. “Instead of the visual equivalent of shouting, we wanted to use signage as a way to create community and reinforce the message that the protocols companies are putting into place aren’t just about doing it for yourself, but for your co-workers and your community.”