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Wayfinding: What It Is And Why You Need It

Being able to find a location has never been easier. You can drive to anywhere in the country door to door with a sat nav, or find a lost phone to the exact square footage with smart phone applications. Modern technology will get you so far, but once you arrive at your whereabouts, then what? What happens when you show up for a hospital appointment and only know the name of the ward, or your ticket to the cup final has your stand number on but you’ve never been to the stadium before? Us Brits are often too shy to ask for help or too proud to ask for directions.

Wayfinding signage is put in place to guide people who are in unfamiliar surroundings to their exact destination, whether that be at a sportsground, work office or doctor’s surgery. Perhaps the most famous example of wayfinding is the London Underground.

Somewhere like a sports venue will often have a couple of large signs around the ground with an overhead view of the stadium. Things such as stand names, bars and toilets will all be pointed out on these so you know in which general direction to head. Once you’re in the vicinity of your destination, there will be more signage to lead to you exactly where you want to go.

The same principle is used for the NHS all around the country. For example the wayfinding shown in the image below is one that Identity have installed in Canterbury for the St Martins site. It is a modular panel and post system with inserts that can be moved and removed to accommodate new panels should ward names change, be moved or new wards are built.

The importance of wayfinding signage cannot be overlooked. Feeling lost in an unknown place is a horrible feeling, but simple signage such as the NHS version with ward names and arrows is a perfect way of guiding people to their final destination. It could not be made much simpler and as previously stated, will get you that little bit further than technology can.

Identity have very recently installed some large format wayfinding signage for HT White in Eastbourne. The use of the company logo is included on the sign to keep with the branding of the existing signage that was on the building. Identity also produced and installed the unit number ‘12’ as seen on below. A common factor for signage on industrial estates is to have the number on both sides of the building as often there are a couple of access points, so there is a need to be seen from all approaching angles.

It is important to understand that should you and your company require wayfinding signage, just because you know where something is, that doesn’t mean everyone will be able to find it. The smallest details must be taken into account. If a lay person needs to find your office, they need to be able find your office, and not wander into the toilets or kitchen first. The easier you are to find, the easier it is for people to do business with you.

Top tips:

  • Keep it simple: Using simple right, left, forward and back arrows are much easier to follow than arrows with multiple directions on.
  • Match your brand: Try to match your wayfinding signage to your existing branding. Keeping the same typeface and colours makes you more recognisable to customers who know your brand already, while making you appear more professional to those that don’t.
  • Do your research: Do your customers think you’re easy to find? Not necessarily just your building, but your depot or offices. Ask them the questions and if they think you need better signage.
  • Be Specific: Use simple wording throughout and perhaps utilise ‘you are here’ on larger sites/areas.
  • Consistency: If you need a couple of signs around your facility, use the same wording for each place. Having ‘warehouse’ on one sign and ‘storage’ on another sign is no good to anyone.