Nobody enjoys feeling lost and disoriented, which is why wayfinding is so important. In fact, it's why the signage industry exists.
When we drive our car on the interstate, there are road signs, exit signs, lights at night, and even digital signs that provide real-time traffic information. But while wayfinding and wayfinding signs are widely available for navigating our interstate highway system, that isn’t always the case in our modern office spaces.
Remember your first day as a new hire? Getting lost looking for the bathroom or break room? What about being several minutes late for your first meeting because you couldn’t find the right conference room?
While these wayfinding snafus are normal rites of passage for many new employees at any office, they also result in lost productivity, frustration, and negative employee (and visitor) experiences.
What is Wayfinding, Exactly?
There are many definitions of the term “wayfinding,” but the most common is: the process of helping people find their way around an environment.
The Planning Department of the City of Los Angeles helpfully defines wayfinding as “an informational signage system of displays, colors, and other design elements [maps, directories, information desks, etc.] that helps people navigate space. It creates a sense of arrival and helps us orient ourselves and find our bearings.”
Navigating through an office should never feel like landing at a foreign airport and not speaking one word of the local language. Instead, office environments should be set up so that people can easily find where they're going. That’s where informational wayfinding signs can help.
What is Wayfinding Signage?
Wayfinding signage, as the name implies, helps people get spatially oriented and find their destination. Wayfinding signs, including identification signage ("human resources department here") and directional signs ("restrooms down the hall"), are intended to help direct people from point to point, as well as confirm their progress along a certain route.
Clear wayfinding and directional signage helps new employees and visitors feel comfortable finding what they’re looking for without getting lost or having to ask random strangers for their directional help.
Effective wayfinding systems and informational signage, can be as simple as “restroom" door plaques or a map of the floor you’re on – or as elaborate as an interactive, touchscreen-enabled status board on a conference room door. A good wayfinding system has many interconnected and complementary components, including informational signage, that enable people to find their way.
7 Types of Signage
Wayfinding signage can be categorized based on their purposes, designs, and locations. Here are some of most common types of regulatory signs:
- Informational Signs: Provide general information about an area, such as directories, maps, or building layouts, helping people understand where they are and where they need to go.
- Directional Signage: Guide individuals by indicating specific directions, such as arrows, indicating pathways, exits, restrooms, or other facilities. These are intended to create a clear traffic flow.
- Identification Signage: These signs mark specific locations, such as room numbers or room names, making it easier for people to identify their destination.
- Regulatory Signage: Communicate rules, regulations, or specific instructions, such as "Do Not Enter" or "Authorized Personnel Only."
- Symbol Signs: Use universal symbols to convey information, like a wheelchair symbol indicating accessibility or the symbols for restrooms.
- Interactive Signs: These signs might involve digital interfaces that provide dynamic or personalized information to users, enabling interactive wayfinding solutions.
- Waymarkers: Small signs that are strategically placed along a route, and which let people know they're on the right path.
6 Benefits of Wayfinding Signage
Signage in an office space offers many benefits that contribute to a better user experience and promote efficient office space utilization. Here’s a non-comprehensive list of those benefits:
1. Better Navigation
Clear wayfinding signage helps guide people inside even the most complex office layouts, reducing confusion and time spent searching for the direction to specific areas such as meeting rooms, the lobby, or different departments.
2. Better User Experiences
Well-designed signage creates more visual cues and a better experience for employees and visitors, ensuring they feel confident in their ability to navigate.
Wayfinding signs also give information about accessibility and decrease the frustration and stress associated with feeling lost or disoriented in an unfamiliar environment.
3. Better Productivity
Efficient architecture and clear signage reduces time wasted in searching for locations within a building/office. Employees can instead focus on their business-related tasks rather than getting lost or asking strangers for directions.
4. Better Safety and Security
In an emergency, clearly marked exits and evacuation routes provided by both lighting and wayfinding signage are essential for quick, safe evacuations of any office, facility or place of business. Regulatory signage can also indicate a particular area that might have limited access for safety or security purposes or due to legal liability concerns.
5. Better Branding
Wayfinding signage and lighting can be made to align with any company's branding, reflecting its "look and feel" with colors and logos. Well-designed signage, art, and lighting also contributes to the overall aesthetic appeal of office spaces and buildings.
6. Better Office Management
By effectively guiding people through an office space, wayfinding signage helps optimize office usage and facilitates better office management.
Wayfinding signage is an integral part of any form of office design, office architecture, and office management solution, contributing to a more efficient, welcoming, and safe environment for people.
Finding the right wayfinding solution for your office
What features should you expect from your wayfinding signage? Here are some features you should be looking for as you consider wayfinding solutions:
1. Interactive Features
These allow users to either book office space (hot desks, meeting rooms, etc.) from a room display touch screen, or from the convenience of a wayfinding app or web dashboard, and should be a central part of any wayfinding solution.
Some digital wayfinding solutions also offer the option of searching and booking space via corporate communications tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. Because the booking is fully digital, employees have minimal friction booking and checking into their work space.
2. Digital Wayfinding Kiosks
These represent an advanced and interactive wayfinding solution, with a digital screen that provides maps and an office/organizational directory. Wayfinding kiosks can be situated in public buildings, at building entrances, in reception areas, in waiting rooms or by the elevators.
Digital kiosks are particularly beneficial for offices or buildings that have multiple floors or regularly welcome visitors.
3. Status Boards
These are informational wall signage similar to the maps/directories you might see at your local shopping mall. With a single glance at the board, it's easy to figure out where to go, see points of interest and current happenings in the office.
An interactive status board offers high-voltage, next-level digital wayfinding, allowing users to locate the person, meeting space, or department they wish to visit.
Better wayfinding starts here
For the reasons detailed above, wayfinding solutions are worthwhile investments for facilities managers and IT leaders looking to improve their workplace experience and people’s productivity.
With the right workplace experience software, employees and visitors will be happier and more productive. Robin’s platform helps make wayfinding easy, empowering your organization to create a customized office floor plan, welcome your employees and visitors, and seamlessly manage your schedules and workspaces.
Employees can locate their colleagues within a facility, find meeting rooms, and reserve a desk or office from a wayfinder kiosk or their own mobile device. Providing clear directions helps everyone get the most from your office environment.
Ready to learn more about wayfinding signage and solutions? Let's chat.