The Importance of Wayfinding

First and foremost: What is Wayfinding?

The dictionary describes wayfinding as:

wayfinding
/ˈweɪfʌɪndɪŋ/
noun: the process or activity of ascertaining one's position and planning and following a route.

The Oxford Dictionary

Simply put, wayfinding is a set of tools, usually graphics or architectural designs; that help navigate a visitor through a space or building to their desired destination.

The purpose of wayfinding is to educate and inform a visitor of their new surroundings to help familiarise themselves with the features, amenities and function of the space they find themselves in. 

“Good design arrives at a realistic and viable vision of what a place might become. To do so it has to consider inter-relationships in the local environment. It has to look at the links between spaces."

A Design Wayfinder- The Design Council

As humans, it’s natural for us to want to know where we are. Wayfinding helps us establish where we are and where we need/want to go.

Types of Wayfinding

There are 4 main types of wayfinding signage:

Informational

This type of sign is useful to let you know where you are and how you can access more information. Just because this signage is informational however, it does not mean that it can’t be creative. Hand-drawn maps, for example are classed as informational wayfinding.

Contiki Basement map

Contiki Basement – Soulful Creative

Directional

This is the most traditional type of sign.  Found at entrances, exits, key areas and junctions; they help navigate you from one place to another.

Old Cout signage

The Old Court – Soulful Creative

The Old Court – Soulful Creative

Rainbows hospice wayfaring

Rainbows Children’s Hospice – Soulful Creative

Identification

This type of sign highlights a landmark or structure.  Maps often have landmarks, so highlighting the landmark is a helpful sign you are going in the right direction!  Examples of this type of wayfinding are: toilets, Entrance, exit, fire escape, you are here maps, meeting rooms, functional zones etc

Friday media group toilets ignage

Friday Media Group – Soulful Creative

Jump Xtreme Exit

Jump Xtreme – Soulful Creative

Regulation

This type of sign usually relates to rules and warnings, limits and laws.

The Works – Soulful Creative

My Lahore – Soulful Creative

The Key Principles

Wayfinding is an essential function that needs to be carefully considered from building concept as much as possible.  There are five key principles that should be considered.

Unique Identity

By ensuring that each key location has a unique identity, it allows visitors the ability to easily recognise their surroundings and helps them navigate through a space.  A great spatial design can function as a landmark in its own right.  The use of colour, texture and graphics can have a strong impact on a space.

Landmarks

Having landmarks throughout a space is very helpful if not essential- especially if it’s  a big office.  Like the age-old milestone having a visual reminder of where you are helps to navigate a space easily.  

NEX – Soulful Creative

Straight Forward (Pathway)

Pathways should be well structured and clearly sign-posted along the way. Visitors should be able to navigate their way easily to their desired final destination.

There should be a clear main path, twists and turns should be avoided. There may be a quicker way from the lift to the HR office, but lets help the visitor with the simplest option – frequent visitors they will find the short cuts!

Choices

Never offer too many navigation options to select from at once. Direction options should be simple, direct and efficient for orientation.

Regions & Zones

If the space is vast, the areas should be broken down into regions or zones for easy navigation. That way a visitor can easily identify where they are, where they’d like to go and how to get there.

How to Approach Wayfinding for your Space

 

Be Strategic

Think of wayfinding as creating an internal orientation system.
The system and type of wayfinding you use should be in keeping with the your brand or use of the space. As you can see from the examples of our work- the wayfinding graphics don’t have to be boring!

Be Clear

Don’t give too many options to get to the same place. Directions need to be clear and concise. If people have to figure out where something is when they see a sign or they frequently get lost, then take these as signs that the wayfinding isn’t clear.

Be Consistent

The form- be it graphics or freestanding architecture; should reflect the brand values of the space and be consistent throughout.
Height, typography, font size, spacing should be all be the same.

CBRE Landmark Place – Soulful Creative

Key Areas

 

Entrance

The Wayfinding here should be like a map. It will clearly inform you of the different areas, broken down by floor or zone. It’s a great introduction.

CBRE Landmark Place – Soulful Creative

Lift Lobby

This is an essential space to give directions. Lift lobbies are often central to a building and have many directions you can take so help people by making it easy for them.

Colmore 2

Colmore Building- Soulful Creative

Outside

Don’t forget the outside! Wayfinding on the outside of buildings such as schools, colleges and museums can be incredibly useful at guiding lots of people around a vast space efficiently.

Bourne Academy- Soulful Creative

Summary

Wayfinding is an essential set of tools for any commercial space.
By following the types and key principles of wayfinding laid out in this article you can ensure your workspace has a clear, efficient and dynamic environment.

Soulful Creative offers a full creative design service that can transform your office or restaurant, while at the same time ensuring that the design helps people navigate the space.

For a free consultation, contact Soulful Creative if you’d like to have some Soulful magic injected into your workspace.

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