Interpretation boards and panels provide facts, information and guidance to visitors. They need to be clear, easy to understand and to fit in well with their surroundings. You will need to think carefully about both the design of the board and its content.

It’s worth bearing in mind that many companies which provide interpretation boards and interpretation panels also offer design services.

What Makes a Good Interpretation Panel?

A well designed display should use an imaginative combination of text and visuals to provide information and guide visitors. Keeping the amount of information to a minimum can sometimes prove difficult, particularly on larger displays, but visitors can be intimidated and confused by too much detail so aim to keep things simple.

The interpretation board or panel needs to look eye-catching to encourage visitors to read it.

Planning an Interpretation Board

The planning stage of creating an interpretation board is crucial. The most important thing to remember is that in order for the board to be clear to users, first you will need to be clear about exactly what you want the board to achieve.

Keep things simple and focused and avoid going off on tangents. Before you start designing or even speaking to a designer, pull out the key pieces of information that you want to focus on.

Designing the Board

Before thinking about the visuals of the interpretation board, think about the style or tone you want to adopt. This will be based on your audience and subject matter. For example, if the target group of the interpretation panel is children you could use a story-telling or conversational approach; if it’s a more academic audience, you might choose a more serious tone.

You may be able to work with other organisations to create an effective interpretation panel or board. For example, the local council, schools, charities, libraries, historical societies and other specialist groups may all be able to advise, as well as provide materials.

For the actual design of the board, it may be wise to consult a professional designer. Remember to keep things simple and only include key information. You need to avoid the board becoming over-cluttered, confusing or busy.

Other issues to consider/discuss with the designer include text size and colour and whether you will cater for those who don’t speak English (by including translations) and the visually impaired (by providing a Braille version of the interpretation board).

Choosing a Board

When choosing an interpretation board, think carefully about the environment where it will be placed. It is possible to get boards which blend will into the board’s environment. Consider whether an upright board could obscure the view – lectern-style boards can be sourced to avoid this.

Think about whether you’ll want to replace the image regularly. Many interpretation boards are designed so that you can easily change the image.

Fitzpatrick Woolmer is a leading provider of creative sign and design solutions, including interpretation boards and panels, for public and open spaces, With in-house graphic design capabilities, and on-site timber, metal and recycled plastic workshops, we provide solutions to meet all outdoor communication requirements.

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