For thousands of years, humankind has needed to be directed to where they needed to go. As humans progressed, and we began to build towns, cities, and communities, our wayfinding signage needs grew and expanded. First used by architect Kevin Lynch in 1960 to describe the role of maps, street numbers, directional signs, and other “way-finding” devices in cities.

Nowadays techniques, materials have changed and whether you are, in a small shop, driving or in a big shopping centre you will find yourself using wayfinding signage, but most people don’t recognise that. Wayfinding refers to any signal, text or photo which help to guide people through a physical environment and enhance their understanding and experience of the space.

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» Why wayfinding signage?

In every business building, hospital, schools or restaurants the client’s satisfaction is the most important thing and in order to have a good first impression people should have easy access to find their destination inside a building. Wayfinding creates a safe, customer-friendly space and helps customers or visitors happy and relaxed while they navigate into a place.

Some of the most important signage for an indoor space falls into the wayfinding category. These signs are specifically designed and located to assist your visitors, your clients or your employees to find their way to a given location.


› 5 principles of wayfinding signage:

1. Create an identity at each location, different from all others.

Allocate every location with its own identity makes life easier for the navigator. The identity of a location is to make the difference of the spaces into a building and every place will function, to some extent, as a landmark – a recognizable point of reference in the larger space.

2. Landmarks

A landmark is great for orientation and being memorable. If a navigator knows a specific landmark in relation to their larger environment, then they know their position and can navigate where to go next. Landmarks which are associated with decision points, where the navigator must choose which path of many to follow, are especially useful as they make the location and the associated decision more memorable.

3. Don’t give the user too many choices in navigation

How many ways should be made for the navigator? The answer is: Enough for the navigator to learn what communicators intend.

If you offer too many options of navigation it can lead to stress, confusion and people will get lost quickly. While there are many ways to get to a destination the wayfinding signage should be well defined and organized in 1 or max of 2 routes which must be the most flexible ways to drive the traffic. By eliminating the option for many routes and keeping them on a primary defined path, people are able to establish an understanding of the space faster.

4. Provide signs at decision points

Decision Point is the place where you are thinking about which way to continue, the current one or to change direction. Signs at decision points help to provide more detailed information regarding what lies ahead on either path, helping to establish their own place while furthering the goal of getting them to their final destination. One example of effective signage in action is at an airport. The environment may be completely unfamiliar to first-time visitors, and signs are the main means of directing them to their destination. Effective signs in an airport both direct visitors at decision points to useful destinations and confirm their route along the way.

5. Create regions with unique visual character

To assist with wayfinding in a large area, the area should be subdivided into smaller, easier to map out regions. The elements that make the difference of a region from another is a mix of its visual appearance or dividing based on function, use. There is no specific requirement regarding a region’s overall size; what’s most important is that each is unique.

› Different Types of Wayfinding Signage

There are 4 types of wayfinding:

1. Identification

Identification signs are used for pointing out a service or feature that is of use to the customer, mainly used for individual locations for example buildings, public facilities.

2. Directional

Directional signs give a full view of a building or property and meanwhile, they are specific. They are used to show the main roads, ways for a direction.

3. Informational

Informational signs help people while they are navigating an area. Mainly they inform about what is included in a building such as an elevator, toilets etc. the best place to locate them is the most visible point for the customers such as the entrance, the hall, waiting rooms, and the most important they should be written to be understandable from all people, all ages.

4. Regulatory

Regulatory wayfinding signage provides information about rules, requirements, – what is and isn’t acceptable in the area. Regulatory signage is a clear, concise, prominent message usually used for Rules and regulations (no smoking; no firearms), compliance standards (ADA accessibility; high voltage sign), access control (no entry beyond this point; employees only).

› Wayfinding Strategy

Wayfinding strategy is an important part of effective signage in buildings and outside spaces. A well-designed wayfinding scheme allows the navigator to enjoy finding the route without being distracted or confused by directional decisions that need to be made.

The wayfinding strategy combined with signage improves customer experience whether is a complex building, big or small wayfinding should integrate seamlessly into the environment.

Wayfinding strategy starts from considering and analyzing the needs of the audience followed by the space, architecture, the cultural and diversity of users.


Ask yourself the following question in order to build a successful wayfinding strategy;

  • Is it a clear communication system with concise messaging?
  • Where are the decision points i.e. the locations where users have a choice of paths to take?
  • What are the lighting conditions like?
  • Is there a clustering situation i.e. do signs you put up to compete for space with other signs?

Combine signage, maps, symbols, colours, also why not to integrate mobile applications, digital displays and radio-frequency identification to create a good wayfinding strategy.

Signage Plan consists of one or more scaled drawings showing the location, type, size, and design of all existing and proposed signs on a site.

› Digital Wayfinding Maps

It’s aggravating to wander around an unfamiliar location and trying to find what you need.

Here Digital Wayfinding Maps become very helpful through their strategy of interactive screens inside buildings to provide directional information for visitors. The interactive screens technology allows the visitor to see a video representation of how to get from a location to another in a much easier way than using static maps, signs. To help the users they are placed at the entrance and throughout the building so while navigating they have the digital wayfinding maps on the way.

They have many benefits such as:

  • Reduces Visitor Frustration and Improves Satisfaction
  • Shows Investment in Technology
  • Provides Directory Information
  • Clears Congested Hallways & Walkways
  • Shares Emergency Messages
  • Updates Information Easily


Navigating is part of our every life and wayfinding signage is there to make the journey easier. Improve the wayfinding signage by knowing the most important principles, types and how to make a successful wayfinding strategy. Use digital wayfinding signage as the latest technology in signage to provide good customer service in terms of navigating.

About the company: Hardy Signs is a professional and digital signage company that designs, manufactures and installs bespoke signage products to a wide range of business sectors in the United Kingdom. The company has been awarded the manufacturer of the year in 2019 and 2020.

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