Take a note. This is a call to action to suspend the guessing game when it comes to implementing a wayfinding design for your facility. It’s not enough to just design the beautiful assets, effective typography and color schemes. Today, everyone involved with a wayfinding project ‑ from designers to facilities managers to executive directors ‑ must think and act like strategists to enable overall project success, end-user happiness, and project longevity.
A true metric, which often gets overlooked among the vanity metrics that plague our modern-day big-data society, is “How does the program fit within the overall user experience in the physical environment?”
User experience isn’t just a buzzword anymore; it’s an actual psychological introspective on how people engage with physical spaces, utilize products and react to design. This is why it’s imperative for all parties, not just designers, to think like strategists no matter at what level you operate.
Many People Involved
Historically, silos and roles impact the whole process, and this is especially true when we talk about wayfinding, whether traditional or digital. Facing and resolving complex problems with many getting people from point A to point B, it becomes extremely easy to stay within your own area and forget about the overall objectives of the wayfinding system.
Wayfinding projects combine environmental graphic design with architects, facility managers, director-level personnel, and project managers and UX strategists. The program often takes an almost infinite amount of iterations and changes before finally being approved, often to the detriment of an expanded scope creep, bloated budgets and a 10-time increase in anxiety.
All isn’t doom and gloom, though.
This in fact is a tremendous opportunity to allow all parties to create a dynamic ecosystem to impact the overall wayfinding experience and serve as a model to live in the convergence zone of user experience strategy and interface design.
An effective wayfinding program essentially answers two main questions: “Where are you?” and “Where are you going?”
A strategic-thinking core group can introduce new thought processes to not only solve the problems at hand in an empathetic manner, but also send positive reverberations through the whole project team.
Top 5 Successes for Wayfinding
So, what happens when everyone involved in wayfinding design leverages a strategic thought process?
1. Creates a sense of place for the visitor to discover the space on his or her own accord rather than being bombarded with senseless and irrelevant wayfinding signage and bland creative.
2. Allows the visitor experience to take place organically. When the world of facilities, design and strategy converge with regards to wayfinding, it truly creates a seamless experience where finding your way is almost second nature.
3. Builds brand equity. When your wayfinding program is designed in a strategic manner, the brand positioning seems to permeate through signage and an effective means of discovery.
4. When strategy, design and technology converge, the brand story is able to shine through. No matter the type of brand or wayfinding activation we’re working on, we always strive to ensure the brand positioning is at the center of everything. It’s a continuation and cornerstone of building brand equity.
5. Saves time, money, headaches, and often can lead to a more positive impact and return on investment. A team who can think strategically about wayfinding design is worth a lot more than a singular person doing what he or she is told without asking the appropriate or hard questions. Those hard questions – while they may be just that – are paramount in the overall success of the program.
Check out these 26 innovative interior product winners – many can even help with your wayfinding design.
New Standard of Thinking
This adaptive and strategic way of thinking about wayfinding systems is only now becoming the norm with facility managers, and as more physical locations turn to digital and traditional wayfinding design, being able to translate the strategy into design and then into true user experience design will only serve as the standard moving forward.
This is where bringing in a firm comes into play. A firm can not only think with a designer’s and technologist’s mind, but also understands the nuances to which the facilities manager and staff must adhere to ensure project success.
Andy Snyder, creative director at OpenEye Global brings this adaptive approach to all projects, when he says, “We’ve found success in implementing wayfinding for our clients by combining strategic design thinking with the ability to adapt to find a common ground of what the client wants and what the end-user needs. The best wayfinding solutions are able to find the sweet-spot of being informative, looking good and feeling part of the space, but being able stand out enough to want people to engage.”
Author Steven Picanza penned this feature on behalf of Bryan Meszaros, managing director of OpenEye Global who co-presented the Retail Sector Keynote entitled, “Retailers are from Mars; Agencies are from Venus,” at Digital Signage Expo 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Learn more about digital signage.
Two hand-picked articles to read next: