Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Sign Project Planning: How to Get It Right

By |

Table of contents

When constructing or renovating a commercial space, interior signage is often an afterthought. But it shouldn’t be! Signs are a critical element in buildings and should be considered early on in a project. Otherwise, you risk going over budget, not finishing on time, or even failing to meet legal requirements. That’s why sign project planning, in the context of a larger building project, needs to be handled correctly. 

If you are working on a building, you need to take the right approach to signage. Thoughtful indoor sign planning can have a major impact on the success of your project. Along with delivering better results, it can make the entire process run more smoothly. 

And the good news is you don’t have to figure it all out alone. We’ve provided some valuable insights into sign project planning to help you along the way.

Let’s dive in… 

Why Signage Is Vital in Commercial Building Projects

The reason sign project planning deserves greater attention is that signs are vital. Indoor signage isn’t just nice to have. In many cases (specifically public buildings in the U.S.), signage is a requirement. Moreover, signs affect a space's functionality, safety, and appearance—not unlike other structural elements that architects consider. 

Here are just a few examples of why signage is important…

Before a building can be opened to the public, it needs to meet certificate of occupancy requirements. And to do that, it needs to have certain signs in place. Whether a building is being constructed, heavily renovated, or converted, it should have the right signs installed to pass the final inspection. 

Signage has a huge impact on wayfinding. Even small buildings can be tough for first-time visitors to navigate, so it’s important to have signs that offer directions and information. Signs with strong visual saliency make it easier for visitors to find their way around on their own. 

Creating a welcoming environment for everyone should be the goal of new construction or renovation. And signage can help with that. Signs that include braille, feature the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA), and identify all-gender restrooms ensure inclusivity by meeting various needs. 

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) outlines the requirements for public accommodations and commercial facilities. And as you may or may not know, one of those requirements is signage. Per the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, commercial buildings must have signs that meet very specific criteria. Without those signs, owners are vulnerable to fines and lawsuits. 

Indoor signage can also reinforce a company’s branding efforts. By installing signs that match the company’s colors and feature its logo, you can improve brand recognition and inspire loyalty. Plus, prioritizing sign project planning at the get-go ensures that signage fits into the finished building seamlessly.  

Customized, compliant solutions for every project. Click here to get a quote from Erie Custom Signs.

The Role of Architects in Sign Project Planning

Some people assume that sign project planning doesn’t require architect participation, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although signage may not be built in like other features, it’s no less important. After all, it’s part of the building project as a whole. So, it only makes sense that architects have a role to play. 

For example…

Integrating Signage Considerations in the Beginning

As mentioned previously, signage shouldn’t be left until the last minute. Instead, it should be addressed early on to ensure the entire project is well thought out. Specifically, architects should integrate the following signage considerations into the larger building project:

Applying Knowledge of Wayfinding Design

When constructing or renovating a commercial space, architects apply their knowledge of wayfinding design to create an easy-to-navigate layout. It’s about providing various cues to guide people through the building. And one of the most important elements is signage. Along with signage, architects can use space, visual imagery, clear choices, and sight lines to ensure the most functional and accessible result.

Collaborating with Other Parties

During any building project, architects collaborate with other parties. And the same goes for sign project planning. In addition to communicating with stakeholders, architects should work closely with interior designers, contractors, and sign professionals to keep everyone on the same page. That way, there won’t be any surprises later on. 

Common Sign Project Mistakes to Avoid

There are several factors involved in sign project planning. As a result, it’s not uncommon to overlook some things and mishandle others. But if you want to prevent issues down the road, it’s important to be mindful of what mistakes to avoid. 

Failing to Satisfy All Requirements

Having the right type of signage installed in the right places is the most crucial aspect to get right. And yet, this is where many go wrong simply because they fail to satisfy all requirements. Many architects believe following local building codes is enough to comply with ADA requirements. However, this isn’t the case. In fact, a building—and its signage—can be up to local code but not ADA compliant. 

Understanding the difference between requirements is a must. At the very least, the parties involved should consult experts in local building codes and ADA guidelines to avoid noncompliance either way.

Introducing Flaws in Design & Placement

When you don’t prioritize sign project planning, you risk introducing flaws in signage design and placement. For instance, neglecting to add signs to initial plans means the overall design aesthetics could be thrown off. Alternatively, the signs could end up blending in too much rather than standing out. 

Deciding on the appearance and placement of signs early on ensures they work with the finished space instead of against it. 

Not Factoring in Signage Cost

The last thing anyone wants is to go over budget for a building project. But that’s what happens when signage cost isn’t considered early on. Getting a quote as soon as possible is the best way to ensure signage is covered. That’s why it’s important to decide how many signs are needed, whether customization is required, and what fabricator will be handling the order.

5 Tips for Successful Sign Project Planning

White ADA room number sign with gray line design for suite 208 from Erie Custom Signs mounted on concrete wall.

To ensure successful sign project planning, it helps to have some guidance. That way, you can feel confident you’re on the right track. More importantly, you can avoid as many issues as possible to get the best result. With that said, here are 5 tips to apply moving forward:

As noted above, early collaboration among architects, interior designers, contractors, and stakeholders is a given. However, engaging sign professionals from a project’s inception is also important. By involving them from the beginning, you can benefit from their expertise in signage regulations, design nuances, and materials. This collaboration ensures that signage considerations are seamlessly integrated into the overall project vision. More than that, it prevents last-minute adjustments and enhances the cohesiveness of the final design.

Successful sign project planning revolves around understanding the needs and perspectives of the end users. It’s worth taking the time to learn about who will be using the building. That way, you can anticipate their requirements and tailor signage solutions accordingly. Prioritizing user experience ensures the building looks impressive and functions seamlessly for everyone.

Allocating a realistic budget for indoor signage is essential. Cutting corners on sign costs can lead to noncompliance issues and compromise the overall effectiveness of the project. It’s vital to opt for quality materials and craftsmanship. Doing so ensures that signage meets accessibility standards and stands the test of time. 

Open and consistent communication is the backbone of successful sign project planning. Architects should communicate regularly with all stakeholders, including sign professionals, interior designers, contractors, and clients. This ensures that everyone is aware of signage goals, timelines, and potential challenges. Transparent communication helps prevent misunderstandings and allows for timely adjustments throughout the project.

Before finalizing signage plans, architects should invest in creating mockups or at least incorporating signs into digital plans. Visualizing how signage fits into the overall design helps identify potential issues with visibility, placement, and aesthetics. It also allows stakeholders to provide feedback before the actual implementation, reducing the risk of costly revisions later on.


Sign project planning is important to get right and all too easy to get wrong. When constructing or renovating a commercial building, those involved can’t afford to leave signage as a last-minute consideration. Instead, it should be prioritized and given the attention it deserves. That way, you can look forward to a more successful project.

If you’re working on a new building project and thinking about indoor signage, check out our predesigned sign packages. With this option, you can achieve a consistent look, tailor as needed, and enjoy a faster turnaround than a custom order!

Filed Under: Business Tips

Recent Posts


Erie Custom Signs is a proud member of...