What is wayfinding signage?
Wayfinding signage refers to a solution that aids users in their navigation through a physical environment. This space might be indoors, for example, within a complex building like a shopping centre; or outdoors, for instance, across a university campus. Signage is a broad term that encompasses detailed maps, directional signs and increasingly digital screens and kiosks.
Wayfinding signage requires careful planning and a deep understanding of a building or landscape’s function. The most effective wayfinding solutions focus on the user experience and appreciate how different users have different wayfinding needs. In one sense, this could mean catering for disabled users and mapping out accessible routes. In another, it is important to take into consideration the familiarity of users with a space, making special provisions for users who are first-time visitors to a building.
What are the benefits of an interactive digital wayfinding system?
Traditional wayfinding signage relies on static signs. A map of the interior layout of a building’s floors and rooms might be mounted on the wall of a reception or displayed within a standing billboard. Often these maps are printed and laminated. Sometimes they might use digital screens but they tend to still display static images or perhaps a video giving a tour of the space. In outside environments, however, wayfinding solutions are rarely digital.
An interactive digital wayfinding system is more sophisticated. Through touchscreen kiosks or screens, users are able to tell the solution their desired destination and receive tailored instructions from their present location. Rather than wayfinding signage that effectively says ‘You Are Here. Here is X. Good Luck’, interactive digital wayfinding shows users the route by mapping out the way. In the near future, this technology will go one step further. As standard, screens will be able to display virtual walkthroughs that allow users to better visualise their journey.
Digital systems can also enhance the user experience with the capacity to personalise their messaging. If an event was being held with important guests in a building like a hotel or concert hall, for instance, digital screens might be used to welcome particular visitors. This personalisation will be sure to leave a positive impression, particularly important upon someone’s arrival to a location.
How does digital signage integrate with wayfinding software?
Digital signage is the perfect vehicle for wayfinding solutions. Its capability to display not only images and video but live web content makes integration straightforward. Touchscreen kiosks in the foyer of buildings or wall mounted screens (interactive or otherwise) are ideal for wayfinding aids. Often locations with digital signage will be able to add a wayfinding function to their existing hardware. For example, a screen might show a welcome video before users interact with it loading the wayfinding software itself.
Outdoor digital signage is a revelation to the wayfinding industry. Thanks to developments in the quality of displays, the technology is no longer limited to inside, with high bright screens and weather-proof guards. With integrated wayfinding software, outdoor touchscreens are now able to replace static print maps and offer greater assistance. This has been a welcome improvement to large environments where wayfinding is even more crucial.