Whether you’re navigating through an airport or just trying to find the restroom at the movie theater, effective wayfinding signs are essential. You’ve undoubtably experienced thousands of wayfinding systems as a customer, but not all business owners or site managers take wayfinding signs seriously. That’s a mistake.

What is Wayfinding?

Wayfinding systems and signs are a group of signs that help people get around your business or site and find what they are looking for. Most places won’t have just one wayfinding sign—wayfinding systems are a collection of signs that, when placed appropriately, make life easier for your customers.

Some common components of a wayfinding system are a directory (such as you might see in the lobby of an office building or in a mall), exit signs, signs that signal where to go for the restroom and signs in a grocery store showing where to find specific items.

Wayfinding signs generally use both text and symbols to give directions in a way that is very clear and legible.

Why Is Wayfinding Important?

When you’re trying to find a restroom before the movie starts, inadequate signage can be a major frustration. If a customer can’t figure out where to find the items he or she is looking for, he or she might leave without making a purchase. As a business owner or site manager, your goal should always be to help your customers have a seamless, frustration-free experience. Appropriate wayfinding signs are essential to making that happen.

A good wayfinding system is also an opportunity to reinforce your branding. You could just get an off-the-shelf exit sign and call it good, but you’re missing an opportunity. Custom wayfinding signs add to the unique look and feel of your business. The materials, colors and overall look of your wayfinding signs should match your general decor and add to the ambiance and overall customer experience.

Components of a Good Wayfinding System

So what makes a good wayfinding system? It should meet the following criteria:

  • Each sign is absolutely clear and concise. It should convey no more and no less information than necessary.
  • All of the signs match in material, color and/or design. The entire system should look cohesive, with each sign playing an appropriate role in the system. The typography should also be consistent on all of the signs.
  • The signs should reinforce your branding and match the look and feel of your business.
  • Each sign should be put in an appropriate location. They should be clearly visible and well-lit.
  • Legibility and clarity are king. The text should be in a clearly legible typeface.
  • There should not be any guesswork for consumers or visitors. If you use any symbols, they should be ones that are very clear. For example, many businesses have unique symbols for the restrooms, but it’s important that anyone be able to recognize which restroom is the men’s room as well as meet A.D.A requirements.

The bottom line is that your wayfinding system is a way to make customers’ experience more positive, to encourage them to spend more money and to reinforce your branding and design.

Does the process of designing your wayfinding system seem daunting? At Northwest Sign & Design, we can guide you through the entire sign-making process, from design to manufacturing. We’ll help you design your wayfinding signs to meet your needs, and we’ll help you decide on the best places to install them. Contact us to learn how our holistic approach to sign and facade design can improve your signage and your branding.