When we think of environmental graphic design (EGD), it is critical to carefully consider your customer’s journey through your wayfinding strategy. Installed graphics and signage have to embody the brand’s values and personality, but it also serves to inform and direct the visitor regarding where they are going. When entering a space for the first time, you may discover visual cues for buildings or landmarks that are distinct from other locations. Not only are these noticeable locations where people locally congregate, but they are made contextually relevant through signage. It is easy for people to overlook how wayfinding strategy is used, and its subliminal presence is what makes it a powerful yet under-appreciated tool.
Wayfinding prioritizes navigation in the consumer’s journey while also working simultaneously with elements of EGD to create a tailored experience. While providing valuable information and guidance through a space, the dissemination of the brand message is achieved through placement, lighting, architecture, landscaping, visual vocabulary, symbols, colors, and much more. Considering how ineffective signage can confuse and frustrate your clients, the potential for negative repercussions and reputational damage to your business increase.
There are several places where wayfinding is critical to the user’s journey, particularly in places of high importance or that may be visually confusing to a new visitor. Locations like airports, train stations, hospitals, and parking structures rely on the signage system to have consistent wayfinding and effectively aid in navigation. Here are some considerations that go into creating a successful wayfinding strategy throughout your property:
Considering the Audience
Putting yourself in the shoes of your audience can raise questions like: where are they coming from, what are their needs, and what dangers should they be aware of? Thinking of how to simplify these complex questions into answers through concise signage can impact your audience’s relationship with the space.
Understanding Hot Spots in a Location
In a building or any high-traffic location, there may be a specific destination that the majority of visitors are headed towards. Prioritizing where people are going and communicating that the strongest – while still showing tertiary locations – shows that your brand understands your visitors and their immediate needs.
Nesting locations within a location can help break down information into digestible amounts. For example, consider going to a university campus and needing to find an office within the student center. Presenting the essentials of campus hotspots first to visitors can help organize groups into where they need to go. A sign at the beginning of the property should first direct to where the student center is. Then, upon entering the student center, you can view a directory of more specific offices located within.
Going beyond ADA requirements, municipal guidelines, and even how many feet the sign is from the ground, the proper placement of a sign can create rhythm and expectation for finding critical navigation information. This reoccurring placement of signs builds a fundamental storytelling throughout an environment, and fosters comfort and confidence with the consumer’s journey.
Creating and presenting a consistent branded language in a space ensures that a message is cohesively delivered. The designed elements of symbols, colors, imagery, and aesthetics tie the signage together to create a significant impression of the space to visitors.