Wayfinding is an important yet somehow unsung part of everyday life. Its pervasiveness has made using signs second nature for getting around. Good wayfinding can do the thinking so you do not have to. It is capable of providing cues to guide visitors in certain directions.
Regardless of whether you are embarking on completing a navigational project for commercial or for retail purposes, the five core principles of wayfinding remain the same. Sticking to these principles can maximize their effectiveness and improve user experience as well.
Wayfinding can also increase revenue by informing visitors of products and services that are available and where should they be found. There are some guidelines that must be used in wayfinding. We will discuss them below but before that, let’s find out the purpose of wayfinding.
Why is Wayfinding Required?
People face challenges when the navigation experience is difficult, be it in a store, at an airport, or another public area. On the other hand, they wish to return to spaces that are simple to navigate, comfortable, and enjoyable. They do not go to places that can cause confusion, negative experiences, and frustration.
With the use of implementing well-designed wayfinding principles, most facilities can create a better sense of safety and even understanding in unfamiliar places. This is all the more in areas where urgent situations occur. In addition, well-designed spaces and flooring can help in deliberating space while controlling the flow of traffic which makes this experience better for everyone.
Lastly, wayfinding also helps senior citizens and children. Older adults and children who experience difficulties with navigating their environments may also need to depend on signs more than young adults. Wayfinding encourages people to walk or cycle to go the extra mile, explore new areas, and even foster a sense of direction.
Principles of Wayfinding:
In this blog, we will discuss them one by one while getting an insight into how these principles come into the design process.
Create Identities At All Locations: This is a principle that makes each destination of wayfinding recognizable and it creates associates which allow users to connect with their surroundings. If all sections of a larger space merge into just one then it can be difficult to create structured navigation.
Ensuring that a visitor is aware of a position and attaches familiarity to a certain location is an important wayfinding principle. Graphic navigational signage is created to turn each area into a noticeable landmark which makes it simple to direct users around. This can be done in subtle ways.
There is no need for any outlandish flashing lights and overcomplicated designs for making each area distinct. Things such as color schemes, textures, graphics, and finishes are all effective ways of adhering to the principles of wayfinding.
Using Landmarks for Orientation Cues: Landmarks are great for navigation and they are often the most viable parts of the property as designated waypoints around a space. Wayfinding is about triggering orientation choices with clear visual cues.
Landmarks draw instant recognition which further makes the directional decision with it much more memorable. When designing a navigational signage system, it becomes important to consider the most recognizable and memorable parts of the area.
There should be a series of landmarks that can be linked through the use of signage. Developing a wayfinding relationship between these points is useful as it focuses on the user’s path and also defines informational space.
Multiple landmarks can be overkill so orientation cues must be used sparingly. It is best to use taller signs including monoliths and totem signage for forming visible reference points that can be spotted from a distance.
Creating Structured Paths: A wayfinding principle is getting users from point A to B in a structured way. The first way of making a well-structured wayfinding path is ensuring that each path has a beginning, middle, and end that gets clearly communicated to the user.
Navigators must be guided between points easily so that they do not get lost. It is best to create directional paths that can be clearly defined so that the efficiency of wayfinding can be improved. The large areas including universities or hospital wards benefit from well-structured paths.
The markers should be strategically placed in the route and there must be location awareness so that the navigator knows that they are in the right place and are also headed in the right direction.
Creating Regions of Differing Visual Character: This is important for navigating in larger areas as this is a principle that maps out the space into small segment sections. It helps in making an area easy to map out.
The way-finding trick is to apply clearly defined attributes to all sections and give them their own code and identity. Colour coding is a popular method of giving each section a unique character which is commonly seen in areas such as airports, security areas, terminals, etc.
Regions can be small or large as is necessary but it is okay if they are set apart from the rest. Splitting up key areas of a facility makes moving between spaces simple. Regions should give cues for recovering a location by creating associations between features like colour and graphics.
When you assign characters, the location of each segment is defined to the navigator while straying into them. While designing wayfinding for large spaces, it is best to look for simple ways to divide the regions so that navigation becomes easier whether this is by different colours or fonts.
Symbols and Iconography: Symbols and iconography are graphic elements that are important for communicating a clear and even immersive wayfinding and branding experience. Once the kind of signs has been identified clearly, graphic design elements must be defined.
In the customer has an established visual identity, using the branding guidelines can help define typography and iconography style along with colour and finishes. In case not then this may be a chance to get creative and even define specific parameters.
The typography and type setting must be readable, the colour palette must also be easy to differentiate, and even the icon style should be easy to find and recognize. It can also be good to allocate a code to every colour, finish, icon, and type setting that can be referenced during signage.
Don’t Overload With Multiple Navigational Choices: This wayfinding principle is about cohesion and limiting user choice. It is achieved by offering relevant information and defining one or two routes that can be listed on signage regardless of whether there are many ways to get between points or not.
This principle avoids confusion and creates a clean and efficient navigational process. It is of importance to spaces such as museums that may want their visitors to head to exhibits in order. Taking the option of detours out of the question also keeps the navigators on the desired path while providing them with the intended experience of a space.
It is important to keep the displayed information short and sharp so that you can get straight to the point and put the user in the right direction as well. Keeping things simple is the most important thing in wayfinding.
Wayfinding is nothing but a form of communication design. It is essential and makes navigating easy. If you have always been interested in learning more about communication design then completing a degree in Bachelor of Design in Communication Design from Chitkara University is the best way to go about it.
Enrol for a Bachelor of Design in Communication Design and learn more about wayfinding and other communication design concepts.