Wayfinding signs with online synch capability are coming to Ferndale

The first phase of what's known as a wayfinding system begins in coming weeks in downtown Ferndale with the installation of eye-catching, user-friendly signs and the launch of online virtual tours to go with them.

About 30 signs, some illuminated, will be installed mostly along 9 Mile and Woodward and tied to information accessible from any computer or smartphone, letting visitors synch up online information about businesses, history, fun facts, and practical information such as where to park, says Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of the Ferndale DDA, which headed up the project.

Two of the signs will be business directory kiosks, and there will be an online walking tour component.

They come at a cost of about $100,000, mostly from grants and a combination of contributions from the City of Ferndale and the DDA. Another $35,000 in volunteer hours has gone into the project.

Two more signs, funded by Woodward Avenue Action Association, or WA3, will go in this fall.

Designs will mimic a marquee such as Radio City, freshened up and stylized yet classic. Troy-based ASI Signage Innovations helped design and manufactured the signs.

Eventually, signs will be located throughout the city, including at its entrances.

Sheppard-Decius says she and other city planners have seen how well wayfinding systems work in other cities. Traverse City and Kalamazoo have nice ones, as does Madison, Wisconsin with its standout system of signs that make you feel like a veteran visitor, she says.

With the number of visitors to downtown Ferndale, the signs make getting around easy and fun and make the city more inviting.

"It's one of those things communities covet. It always seems to come up around town…that when you're a visitor you can't seem to find your way. If you're a resident you have the upper hand. To a visitor it's a blank slate," she says.

Besides, she adds, this is something that makes the city look good while answering repeated requests for better ways of navigating Ferndale. The signs put its best face forward.

"[It's] how we present ourselves," Sheppard-Decius says. "How people get around our city comes up many times at focus groups and in surveys. This is the answer to that."

Source: Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director Ferndale DDA
Writer: Kim North Shine