What is “Wayfinding”? In every industry there are special words that mean something to the insidersbut not so much to anybody else. Wayfinding are directional signs. These are planned out to direct people to their destination.
The use of signage is a key part of wayfinding. Most wayfinding is commercial is some aspect. Maximizing the positive experience promotes the commercial interest. Planning a visitor’s trip is important. It predetermines the path. When a path is thought out, it is not the shortest route, it is the best route. In retail settings it is the path designed to maximize the exposure to products. In hotel casinos, it maximized the exposure gambling opportunities. By guiding through the “scenic route” it avoids the less desirable impressions, perhaps avoiding a dumpster or less attractive (possibly shorter, faster) route.
Access, particularly for the disabled. There are a series of laws about accessibility. This guides visitors away from obstacles and identifies those that can not be avoided. Often steps are avoided so wheelchairs and those with problems with staircases are channeled into easier routes. This also happens with sharp corners, paths with less visibility, curbs, and other potential hazards.
The last 500 feet. The GPS will get you close, but from the drive way or entrance, Wayfinding takes over. It identifies the range of options from there. This can be the rental office or the restroom, the store location or the food court. This is important for visitors that know where they are as well. It gives the traveler a relative picture of the area.
Perhaps the rarest Wayfinding sign use is the most important. In the case of an emergency, Wayfinding signs direct people out and emergency staff in. Fire is the most obvious, but not the only reason people been to move quickly to the exits. While rare, it can be the difference between life and death.
Well executed wayfinding is important for property owners, business owners and visitors. Well designed, made and located wayfinding signs reduce stress and frustration. By creating a good customer experience everybody benefits from being better able to do what they are there for.
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