Wayfinding signage is what helps people go from “You are here” to “I’m trying to go there.” Whether in a single building, on a campus environment, or at a major event, wayfinding signage helps visitors orient themselves in the environment and navigate to where they want to be. Many times, wayfinding signage uses interior or exterior landmarks to provide orientation and visual cues.
Navigational signage isn’t only the visual map overview of the environment. It also includes the directional signage that helps you get from Point A to Point B as quickly and easily as possible. Sometimes, wayfinding signage will create identities for different locations that may have different colors or styles. This helps people differentiate buildings or areas from each other and provides an easy visual clue that they’re in the right place (or not).
Wayfinding signage is made up of several types of signs: informational signage, directional signage, and identification signage. Taken together, these elements help visitors, customers, vendors, and employees quickly and easily find what they need. If you want visitors to be happy, it’s important to create useful directional signage.
Depending on the size of your organization, wayfinding signage can be as simple as few prominent arrows pointing to main departments or buildings. Or it could be more of an easy-to-follow alphabetical, numerical, or visual directory like you’d see at malls or business centers.
Try some of these suggestions for proper signage:
– Street posts. If you have an actual campus, it helps to give people geographic references, even if they’re part of your world and not actual streets. Microsoft, for instance, has about 100 buildings on 500 acres at its headquarters east of Seattle. To avoid confusion, every building, parking lot, and cross street is clearly marked. Even if you have a much smaller footprint, newcomers will instinctively look for directional signs in an unfamiliar area.
– Maps. Seeing “You Are Here” can be reassuring for someone who isn’t quite sure how they got to Point B but still needs to get to Point C. While we are used to asking our phones to point us in the right direction when we’re driving, these directional services don’t always work well in a smaller space. So a full-sized map can show us the entire complex in relation to where we are. These can be fun and even exaggerated in scale as long as the details are clear. Even a retailer like a grocery store can create something to let people know the easiest ways to different departments, which can be useful for new shoppers or even for veterans.
– Easy to see. If your business is always open, you’ll need to make sure any wayfinding signage can be seen at night. Evening or early morning visitors may not be able to see dark arrows or signs on buildings. But they may appreciate an illuminated map or lights by each door.
– Reduce the wandering. Go beyond ‘analog’ maps by attaching a map and directions whenever you make contact with a potential vendor or customer and invite them to see your location. Then, when the visitor gets to where you told them, make sure there is adequate signage to reassure them they’ve found the correct place.
– Incorporate your brand. Anyone can make adequate arrows and words, but your directional signage can be thought of as a contact from your organization to a member of the public or a partner. So even a basic sign can be enhanced with your correct logo, colors, and fonts. If you have an official mascot or icon, they could also be providing the direcitons.