The use of space and design to direct people to a destination is called Wayfinding. Whether executed for a commercial building, a hospital, or a school campus, visitors need a well-designed wayfinding system to lead their way. A successful wayfinding approach is to fulfill a user’s wayfinding needs by using accessible information in the environment. It is concentrated on making location and space information effectively navigable. That is, providing users with a way to find a path from their starting point to a destination. Traditional wayfinding solutions allow the user to create an invisible path in their mind, a sense of direction derived from static signage and arrows placed throughout the facility. The new approach to wayfinding is to use a more practical, digital solution, that of an illustrated path which quickly and subconsciously eliminates doubt for the user.

Principles for Effective Wayfinding

The Beginning

Planning a wayfinding strategy can be a challenge if you are new to the concepts. Several factors and some stakeholders need to be considered and catered to. It is recommended to bring together all people involved in the wayfinding design, including focus groups when possible.This is to prevent any conflicts of interest within the organization. For example, in a hotel wayfinding plan, the needs of the receptionists are to be considered, but also those of the housekeepers, security officers, and car service companies, etc.

Keep a fresh perspective

In beginning your research, consider involving a location visit, creating a detailed floor plan to include special landmarks, and hold a meeting with facility officers to gather a better sense of project scope. Primary and secondary destinations such as elevators, stairs, restrooms, etc. should be identified. It is also necessary to examine the flow of visitors, how they navigate through the facility and how they use existing directional signs.

Walk A Day In Your Users’ Shoes

Research and gather feedback as often as you can. Every organization has users with different views on a potential wayfinding system, and most often know the challenges within the areas you are building a solution for. It is a great idea to talk to them and invite them to the planning meeting. Those users usually have valuable ideas that can be reflected on and examined.

Make The Messaging Appealing

Short messages and visual systems make it an easier visitor experience to find their way. A consistent message should also be established. For instance, in the example of a hospital, visitors may need to locate the “X-Ray Department,” but physicians refer to it as “Imaging.” To prevent confusion amongst users, consider a single naming convention system.

Important Factors to Consider in Wayfinding Design

Visibility.

Install the signage so that it is able to be seen from all reachable directions. Facilitate a straightforward and coherent creation. You may want to steer clear of elements that can compromise the sign’s usage. Examine the signage background, color, font size as well as the mounting location.

Lighting.

It’s important where the signage is to be mounted. Consider if it needs to be placed under direct sunlight, indoors with or without ambient lighting, or in a dark place. Note how these lighting choices affect the materials chosen such as the screen’s glass.

Accessibility.

A wayfinding strategy should also contemplate users with disabilities, English as a second language, or the elderly. Some provisions can be made, including modifiable button height or traditional wayfinding paths.

Clarity.

It’s extremely important that wayfinding signage is easy to comprehend to use. Using simple words and menus that users can read and follow can help ensure a better wayfinding experience. A best case scenario is a system which requires no instruction to use, and when basic instructions are given and are clear and concise.

Consistency.

Users anticipate to see signage in particular locations such as upon entering a building or directly outside of an elevator. The colors chosen are also important.

Usability.

Make sure that signage is placed at decision locations such foyer entrances. An effective wayfinding system will help with the decision-making process as users approach an intersection.

Wayfinding Solutions

Are you experiencing problems with your visitors and patients losing their way, and constantly asking your staff for directions? Let GDS perform a comprehensive wayfinding analysis, and recommend solutions that will improve the overall experience of your patients and visitors. Embracing new technologies, GDS will develop a wayfinding approach that will incorporate not only static signage, but smartphones, digital signage/kiosks, and the Web as well. A total “Closed-Loop” system.oop” system.