Friday, March 9, 2012

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Why Interpretive Panels Are the Best Buy for Your Money
Why should anyone, in these tough times, spend money on trailside signs? If you want more people to know your trail, to use it, and to care about it, interpretive signage is the single best investment you can make. Here's why:

·      Informative signs can increase your trail's usage.
Want users to talk about your trail at dinner tonight? Interpretive signs give a trail an identity and make the experience of using the trail more enjoyable and more memorable. The more associations visitors have with your trail – vista points with catchy names, a bit of curious history, a game they enjoyed playing – the more frequently it will come to mind, and the more others will hear about it.

·      Interpretive signs can make your trail more accessible. Invite a broader and more diverse audience to your trail, and make them feel welcome. Even very simple gestures can accomplish this: images showing an under-represented group enjoying the trail; a welcome message in multiple languages; trail length and specifications that help people with disabilities determine whether they can use the trail. Interpretation clustered toward the start of a trail, or around a small loop, gives users something to do while resting, and can make a short walk feel like a worthwhile accomplishment. 

·      Attractive signage automatically encourages stewardship. Whether trail users read interpretation or not, the mere presence of attractive, professional quality signs give visitors a strong impression of high value. Studies have shown that even when visitors have learned nothing from reading interpretive signage, they consistently attribute a higher value to a site with a sign than a site without. Users who value your trail will be good stewards.

·      Signage turns your trail's users into advocates and volunteers. Well-crafted interpretive signs show visitors why your trail is important and why it should matter to them. Now that you have users on your side, signs can also communicate threats to your trail, direct users to take action, invite new volunteers, and turn fans of your trail into advocates.

·      Trailside signs are an investment that lasts.
Quality interpretive signs last for a long time. A good fabrication firm will guarantee the product for 10 years, and signs will often endure the elements even longer than that. During all that time, your signs are working as silent advocates for your trail.

Erica Fielder Studio has been designing interpretive signage, trailside panels, and displays for the great outdoors since 1983. We offer original artwork and engaging text at an affordable price, and we take your sign project from idea to installation.

I like Erica Fielder Studio’s personal commitment to producing the best product with unique art that draws the visitor in.
— M. M, Director, Mendocino Land Trust

Watch for announcements for Telling a Better Story: Best Practices for Developing Interpretive Panels for Trails. This will be shown on the American Trails webinar site, April 26, at 10:00 AM, PDT. American Trails does charge a fee to view this webinar so go to their site for more information: