Welcome to Crewkerne Train Station – don’t break your neck!

What went through the mind of the person who slipped on the platform? The floor. Last year 77 people fell on our platforms.  Don't let this trip be your last.

I always wonder what people think of their welcome to Crewkerne station, Somerset.  They roll through the beautiful south west countryside and pull into the Victorian station halt.

Here they descend from the train to be greeted with this in prime position on the platform wall:

Compare this with the much less professionally produced noticeboard placed strategically at the exit in the ticket office at Arundel station in Sussex:

Welcome to Arundel.  The town is a 12 minute walk. This message is repeated in several languages.

Now it’s true that the aims of the information on display are different.  The first is to warn and prevent, but its positioning in the station means that it acts as a(n) ‘(un)welcome!’ message.  I wonder how many people at Crewkerne have slipped and hit their head on the platform?  It can hardly be a daily, weekly or even monthly occurrence.

By contrast, the staff at Arundel have thought about what their passengers need to know on arrival at the town, providing them with a useful nudge as to whether they need a taxi.  Not only do they use the word ‘Welcome’ but they have also taken the trouble to reproduce the message in a myriad of languages. It’s true that Arundel has a greater number of tourists on account of the magnificent castle, than Crewkerne is likely to have, but again illustrates about how they have thought of their audience.

As an information professional, my key message is to take the information you need and want to convey as your starting point.  Get that right in terms of what your audience needs/wants to know and then make it professional looking and eye-catching etc as a secondary measure.  Think too about when and how your audience will encounter the information – is it appropriate and at the point at which they need it?  What unintentional lasting impression might it leave?

In the meantime, happy travelling, but…mind your step on the platform!

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