April 17, 2019

A Guide to Creating Great Graduation Signs and Graphics

For families, graduation marks the culmination of an impressive amount of work and dedication. In fact, it’s one of the few ceremonies that retains many of the traditions from years past. For any educational institution, it’s the most important event to get right. Yet, schools that don’t clearly mark pathways, parking spaces, and event locations can run the risk of alienating visitors. To make sure the final impression of the institution is a positive one, here are some simple guidelines event planners and school administrators can implement with graduation signs and graphics.

Make Parking Pleasant

One of the biggest headaches for both attendees and organizers of graduation ceremonies is parking solutions. The sheer influx of people descending on a campus for the ceremony means that parking must be a smoothly operating machine. Without sufficient signage, looking for the correct place to park or drop off graduates can lead to a cacophony of yelling, honking, and generalized confusion. That experience is the last thing you want graduates and their families remembering as they celebrate the apex of their educational career.

Even if your school is accustomed to handling large sporting events or concerts, commencement ceremonies can be decidedly more complex. There are several key signage solutions to have in place to make everything run more smoothly. First, make sure each parking lot that will be used is clearly labeled. Indicators like “graduate family parking” or “faculty and staff parking” will designate the correct spaces for all involved in the ceremonies. Since the use of lots may differ from normal use, make sure the signs you use for graduation have a unified, bold color theme that draws the eye. Having the commencement year on the sign also reassures viewers that the signs apply for that day in particular. Preparing for full lots is equally important. Bright A-Frame signs indicating a full parking lot will save attendees several minutes of aimless circling and frustration as they try to find an open space. All in all, working alongside a trusted print and signage partner will allow you and your event planners to ensure in advance that parking will be a pleasant and smooth experience for all participants on that day.

Workable Wayfinding

Since a college or high school graduation can be a huge, important event in a family’s life, extended family and friends will make it a priority to be present at the ceremony. While graduates have a deep understanding of a campus layout, that’s probably not the case for the majority of their guests. To that end, wayfinding and directional signage must be used to help visitors navigate the area. Clear, readable banners that make ample use of arrows can help funnel attendees from parking lot to ceremony to reception and back to parking.

When planning wayfinding for an event, it’s important to look at the physical space with fresh eyes. It may help to bring along someone who isn’t familiar with the location. Generally speaking, directional signs should be placed along a pathway so that the next marker can be seen from the previous marker. Providing a clear pathway to the event also protects grass and landscaping from participants trying to find a direct route to the ceremony location.

To underscore the route or for a more unobtrusive way to direct traffic, sidewalk graphics can provide guidance in addition to banners or signs. This can be especially helpful if the ceremony is on a high hilltop, or if you’re in a geographic location where high winds are possible. Once participants reach the location of the ceremony, clearly marked seating areas should help ticket holders determine where to go.

Invest In Clear Signage for All Visitors

Family members from many generations and many different life stages will be present at graduation ceremonies, so using ADA-compliant signage will ensure that everyone will be informed about seating arrangements and event locations. Find a company experienced in creating ADA-compliant signage. (Our ADA sign creator even reads Braille, so she can double-check her own work.)

To ensure your signage is clear for all visitors, it must utilize materials with low glare, and select a high-contrast, easy-to-read font with specific character spacing. Installation is also an important concern. Signs must be installed no higher than 60 inches maximum from the floor, so they’re viewable for individuals in wheelchairs or with short stature.

Many universities and educational institutions invest significantly in retrofitting buildings to be accessible for all visitors. However, they don’t always invest the same time and energy in signage that highlights accessible pathways, restrooms, and water fountains. On an important day like graduation, ease of movement from one space to the next can make campus a welcoming place for all friends and family who come to support their graduate.

Commence The Celebration

When thinking about signs and banners for the ceremony itself, festivity and school pride should be the central concepts to focus on. In the weeks leading up to graduation, providing graduates and their families with yard signs will allow them to bring school spirit into their neighborhood. Commencement is a true celebration, and all decorations should reflect that fact. Large floor graphics that celebrate the graduation year and the age of the university or school can provide a centralized image for eyes in the stands to focus on. It’s also traditional to mark each major of study with a large banner. Make sure these banners are constructed with resilient material, so they can be used year after year. Graduation is all about celebrating the achievements of a family member, and banners will go a long way in helping guests locate their special person.

On the stage or platform, a large fabric or vinyl backdrop will set the tone for the ceremony. As more auditoriums become fully retrofitted with updated technology, digital displays can run a series of images and short clips that celebrate this year’s class. On the floor, banners marking faculty disciplines can help students and families locate that influential faculty member. A festive podium banner will attract attention to the speakers as the ceremony gets underway. As you’re planning for the event, think about the flow of graduates across the stage. If there’s a designated area for a photo, it can be clearly marked with a banner or sign. Finally, if there’s a reception area for attendees to gather after the ceremony, signs can direct them to the appropriate location.  

Big Visual Group Helps Big Events Stand Out

There’s a lot to consider when planning a graduation event. We know because we’ve helped multiple schools and universities create banners and backdrops for their spaces. We’re experienced in education, and we love bringing our expertise into the halls of learning. Contact us today to learn more about how we can bring visual impact to your institution.