What is Wayfinding?
Before we can delve into the different types of wayfinding signage, it is important to clearly define what it is. As its name implies, wayfinding signage is a physical marker that helps you navigate a space, directing individuals in the right trajectory when they are visiting a business, institution, and so on.
Wayfinding signage is commonly used in medical buildings, educational institutions, touristic attractions, restaurants and bars, as well as in malls and various retailers. While this type of signage is not considered a form of advertisement, it is typically a key element in portraying a positive brand image.
Types of Wayfinding Signage
Now that you are familiar with the concept of wayfinding signage and its overall purpose we can take a look at each type individually.
This section will go over what you need to know about each type of wayfinding signage.
This is the most commonly found type of wayfinding signage and is also considered to serve as general wayfinding landmark. This type of sign informs guests that they have arrived at their intended location within a specific building.
These can be really useful, especially when in a large building with multiple businesses or organizations sharing the same space. Given their nature, identification signs must be simple and uncluttered in order to be understood in a matter of seconds.
Some common examples of identification signage are:
- Door plaques indicating whose office it is.
- Departmental markers such as customer service or accounting
- Landmark signage such as a historical marker or donor plaque.
Directional signage should facilitate the navigation of a building for customers and visitors. The proper placement of these signs is crucial since they are leading a path to a destination. Directional signage must be unambiguous both in language and placement. Position them where traffic flow isn’t obvious such as areas of a building with multiple junctions.
Some common examples of effective directional signs are:
- Markings at each junction indicating which direction to go
- Building directory indicating what/who is on each floor
- Coloured arrows/lines on the floor (blue for marketing; red for sales)
Informational signage closely resembles identification signage but is more generic in nature. Rather than indicating specifics, informational signage applies to an entire building. These signs are found in common areas where the majority of visitors will view them, such as lobbies, waiting rooms, and entrances.
When considering the types of informational signs that your business requires, consider what questions visitors might have and ensure that your signage provides clear answers to those queries.
Some common examples of informational signage are:
- Bathroom indicator
- Business hours
- Elevators and stairs indicator
- Free WIFI signage
- Cafeteria or other eating areas signage
Informational signage should be posted in areas visible to all and should utilize internationally recognizable symbols and languages to ensure that they are readily and universally understood by everyone at a glance.
Last but not least, regulatory signage is a type of wayfinding signage that focuses on visitor safety and liability concerns. Regulatory signs are very important because they set boundaries for the visitors. These should clearly indicate areas that are out of bounds such as employees-only zones, behaviours not permitted such as no smoking signs, and cautionary signs such as wet floors ahead.
As it is for all types of wayfinding signage, make sure that your regulatory signs are visible, clear, and concise.
Some common examples of regulatory signage are:
- No pets allowed
- No smoking allowed
- Caution! High Voltage!
- Caution! Wet Floors!
- Employees only
- No entry beyond this point
Each form of wayfinding sign can and should be used in conjunction with the others. In your facilities, informational and regulatory signage must be used to establish behaviour expectations. Furthermore, all signage should be straightforward. Regardless of its purpose, a person should be able to look at a sign and know what it says as well as what it implies in terms of navigation in seconds.
Make sure you have the correct mode of distribution for whatever information you’re delivering. The more straightforward and consistent your signage is throughout all four forms, the more beneficial it will be for everybody who uses it.