Signage examples in Germany and UK

Different countries use signage in transport systems in a variety of ways. By analysing examples, common design principles become apparent – clean and uncluttered information presented in a simple way, with a mixture of static and dynamic signs.

In Frankfurt, small amounts of information are placed on highly visible signs. Both the size of the text (the largest being the most important) and colour coding (separating text onto yellow or blue backgrounds to signify what it relates to) are utilised to help convey vital information to customers. More detailed information is located on the three column-like timetables to the right of the image, allowing for closer inspection if necessary.

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There are also dynamic signs above the platform – they display only the most critical information, that being the platform number, the time of the train’s arrival and its destination.

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In London, King’s Cross St. Pancras Station is illustrative of similar principles. Large, clear signs with minimal amounts of information are used throughout the station. It seems the trend is to diffuse information onto different physical objects, so no one sign is too complicated – as seen in the examples below.

Large text and image conveying a single piece of information

Large text and image conveying a single piece of information

The 'way out' is colour coded to convey importance

The ‘way out’ is colour coded to convey importance

As with Frankfurt, there is also a detailed, dynamic timetable with more information if required. Here, the timetable is placed high in the air for visibility.

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One potential issue with such a timetable is it can cause congestion in busy stations as many people stop to look at it. An example of this can be seen in Liverpool Street Station, a central London station used by many tourists who may be uncertain of where to go.

Congestion is caused by people stopping to look at the timetable (Photo Credit: Alex Lecea)

Congestion is caused by people stopping to look at the timetable (Photo Credit: Alex Lecea)

Signage extends onto the trains themselves as well. Often trains that are used for a single line will have that line’s map attached to them in a static form so customers can see where they’ve got on and where the train has already been. In Bangkok these signs are dynamic – as each station is reached it is lit up with a particular coloured light, while those stations ahead stay lit a different colour.

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Beijing even tells you which side of the train the doors will open on if you’re unfamiliar with a particular station, assisting in the flow of passengers from the train.

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