What is wayfinding? Just as the name states, wayfinding is the idea of assisting people in finding their way, whether it be by bike, car, or in our case, navigating through a building. For buildings, it’s more than just signs on the wall or logos of companies to identify their space. It’s a compilation of important information such as maps, directions, symbols, logos, and colors to assist visitors in finding their way.
In today’s market, wayfinding can and should be so much more. It allows building owners and managers to enhance their user experience and build brand reputation. To take your wayfinding strategy to the next level, you must keep in mind the following:
Unique Design Elements
Before hanging any signage, you should first create a set of rules to follow. Such as colors to use, symbols to display, and ways to incorporate your brand into wayfinding markers. Not only does this approach provide general information, but it also promotes consistency and commitment to clients and visitors. Directional information is always going to be necessary for visitors. By connecting your brand to your wayfinding system, it offers visitors a positive memory of your brand’s image and space.
Along with words and symbols, colors are an essential aspect to consider in your wayfinding design. Selecting colors that compliment your brand or within your brand standards is the best way to enhance your brands’ identity within your space and remain consistent with your customers. In some cases, if the building is very large, it is worth breaking the design up into different complementary color schemes to help a visitor navigate.
Overcomplicated wayfinding design takes away from the information visitors are searching for. The best way to present important information is to keep it simple and easy to read. Make signage straight forward and to the point, showing only the necessary information. Often this should only take a few words and/or symbols. For example, the symbol for stairs accompanied by an arrow pointing to the right is often quicker to read than a sign stating, “stairs to the right.”
Wayfinding design is only as effective as its placement. No one is going to go out of their way to look for information. The best place to install your wayfinding signage is where traffic is frequent and heavy, such as entrances, elevators, and corridor intersections, where decisions need to be made.
In addition to the physical location, it’s best to install these wayfinding graphics at an average sightline or eye-level, though you should always consult relevant codes as well. In some cases, you may also find that additional overhead signs placed in high traffic areas make it easier to grab the attention of visitors among the crowds.
Symbols are an excellent way to break up the often text-heavy navigation. Take, for example, the universal symbols for restrooms and stairs/elevators. Alongside these notable symbols, icons, or logos are the most personable way to identify tenant suites and make your wayfinding visually appealing.
Wayfinding in the Digital Era
With advancements in technology, wayfinding has become more than just graphics on the wall. Digital directories, for example, allow visitors to easily interact with the building and get information quicker than ever before. By supplementing physical signage with digital tools and touch screen navigation, it will enable visitors to have access to real-time data and even personalize their user experience. To be clear, static signage will still be necessary for many areas of a building, unless you have an unlimited budget. Nevertheless, new digital technologies create a custom dynamic as you integrate the two.
If you are updating your current wayfinding design or creating one for the first time, be sure to schedule out adequate time to plan all aspects of the experience. Prototypes and mock-ups prior to final fabrication are critical to a successful wayfinding experience. It is essential to place mock-ups of all signs and review with multiple individuals, especially someone not familiar with the building. Allow them to navigate the space and see what may be missing. At this time, you can confirm that the colors, verbiage, size, and locations are accurate before installing the final product. Depending on the scale of your project, it may be worth considering a wayfinding consultant to help you through the process, as they are experts and can help direct your design based on their expertise.