Avoid These Common Mistakes in Wayfinding Design

Avoid These Common Mistakes in Wayfinding Design

If you’ve ever read the story about Hansel and Gretel, then you know how important good wayfinding can be. Breadcrumb trails, wicked witches and fairy tales aside, effective wayfinding is a central element of facilities and campuses in every business sector. Imagine arriving at the airport for your flight and there were no signs to direct you. Or rushing to the hospital with an emergency but the directional signage was wrong. You get the point.

Wayfinding may seem like a no-brainer but it’s critically important. Here are some simple, practical guidelines you can follow (and design mistakes you want to avoid) when helping the public to find their way.

Place directional signage prior to decision points. As you’re walking or driving, ‘decision points’ frequently pop up. At these junctures, you’ll need to make a turn, continue straight, or some other option, depending upon where you’re headed. Visual cues and signage indicating what’s ahead for any decision you make allows you to know which way to proceed. The restroom is to the left and that’s your destination? Great. You’re famished and the cafeteria is straight ahead? Woohoo! A common error in wayfinding design is placing decision point signage after the choice needs to be made. This causes confusion, frustration and backtracking. By placing directional signage in a visible location in advance of the decision point, it allows pedestrians and drivers time to choose which way they want to go.

Make sure the message is suited to the reader. Particularly in hospitals, visitors are likely to be under stress or physically impaired, so simple, effective signs are especially important in this environment. Making directional signs large and keeping them at eye level will make it easier for the elderly or infirmed, who may find it difficult to look up while walking. It’s also important to use terminology that’s aligned with visitors’ expectations. For example, if someone is looking for the X-ray department but the identification signs call it “Imaging”, navigating the hallways can become an exasperating experience.

Avoid information overload. When multiple stakeholders are involved in an environment’s wayfinding, clustering and excess can easily happen. For example, the need to have directional signs, security and safety information, and advertising signage to satisfy commercial needs means that wayfinding information can often be left fighting for space. One solution is to group specific types of signs together in designated areas. Put the security signs all together in one location, for example, and place the directional signage in another spot (ensuring that it’s still appropriately positioned prior to decision points). Signage design in wayfinding also requires planning for various families of signs.

Maintenance matters. Once it’s created and implemented, a wayfinding system becomes organic. It grows and evolves, and that means it also needs ongoing monitoring and management. It’s common to see directional signs and aids that are neglected, damaged and illegible. Wayfinding signage that’s in poor condition should be replaced with properly placed, easy-to-read new signs. In the event that wayfinding signs that have become redundant or obsolete, they should be removed right away. To avoid the possibility of causing visitors stress and confusion, you wayfinding system signage should be checked periodically and updated as needed.

As a business owner or facility manager, your goal should always be to help your customers and visitors have a seamless, stress-free experience. Appropriate wayfinding signage is essential to making that happen. Does the process of designing your wayfinding system seem daunting? At Adler Display, we can guide you through the entire sign-making process, from design to manufacturing and installation. Contact us today get started.

About Adler Display: Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Adler Display brings more than 80 years of experience to its clients in need of recognition displays, lobby and corporate interiors, custom exhibits, historical timelines, trade show displays, and signage and graphics. For more information about Adler Display, please visit the website at https://www.adlerdisplay.com/ or call 855-552-3537.