The Best Wayfinding Systems are Intuitive, Not Obtrusive
From the point of view of patrons, the best wayfinding systems in a built environment are intuitive, not obtrusive. If patrons must take special notice of the function of wayfinding elements in a facility, then those elements are probably not serving those patrons as well as they could. Wayfinding systems are necessary in built environments to help people find their way around, sure, but they also play a vital role in branding facilities in people’s minds and inspiring confidence. Intuitive wayfinding systems help people feel comfortable navigating built environments, whether on their first visit or their hundredth.
More Than Just Signage
Wayfinding systems are about more than just signage. In built environments, wayfinding includes the use of architectural elements – both structural features and open spaces – as cues. Architectural signage enhances wayfinding solutions by working harmoniously with these design elements. When people visit a facility in which structural elements of a built environment work hand-in-hand with well-designed signage, the result is an intuitive wayfinding system. To implement the best wayfinding systems, decision-makers for businesses should ideally sit at the same table with architects, designers, and signage suppliers.
The Importance of Consistency
Since intuitive wayfinding systems require input from many different people, everyone involved needs to keep uppermost in mind the importance of consistency. The best wayfinding systems are consistent and coordinated throughout the facility, with regard to both navigation and branding. Again, a wayfinding system that people find obtrusive will likely be one that lacks consistency and whose elements function not as cues but as distractions, causing frustration in navigation instead of success. To help ensure that wayfinding solutions are as helpful to patrons as possible, they must be comprehensive across the board, integrating signage design and interior design with the facility’s structural elements.
Keeping Up to Date
Another crucial element of intuitive wayfinding systems is keeping them up to date. A facility’s brand will change over time, as will its structural elements, whether through renovations or expansion. What does this mean for wayfinding solutions? They need to be works-in-progress: dynamic, not static. The best wayfinding solutions must walk a middle ground between making necessary changes as a business grows and maintaining the consistency and cohesiveness that are hallmarks of intuitive navigation and effective branding. Intuitive wayfinding is a form of highly effective, yet subtle, communication to people who visit a facility, and this communication should be maintained to its highest standard throughout the passage of time.
The best wayfinding systems are intuitive, and intuitive wayfinding translates into effective, accessible navigation through the use of signage and design elements. When people feel comfortable in a facility and confident about being able to find their way around, they’re more likely to return to that facility. Intuitive wayfinding helps people feel welcome on their first visit, and it encourages them to continue to feel good about the facility’s ability to help them not only with navigation but with whatever else the facility has to offer.