Imagine going to a large hospital campus for the first time. There are no signs or maps, and everyone is too busy to help you. Your appointment is in 10 minutes and you can hear the seconds ticking away. How do you find the correct building let alone the actual office?
Wayfinding is an informational system that guides people from point A to point B whether inside a building, on campus, or on the road. There are 3 general types of wayfinding signs – identification, directional and informational.
This is the most common sign because it identifies a space. It lets you know if you arrived at your destination or serves as a good landmark to get your bearings. For example, if you are looking for Cardiology but keeps seeing signs for Pediatrics, you’re probably in the wrong area. Typical identification signs are dimensional letters, door plaques and room IDs.
Simply put, this type of sign helps people get to where they want to go. It usually has arrows showing the way and even colored zones for larger areas. Cardiology is in the red zone, but I’m in the purple zone. When will I get out of this blasted pediatric unit?!
Typical directional signs are overhead, wall-mounted and freestanding signs with arrows.
Identification signage establishes a specific area whereas informational signs refer to the overall facility. Directories are a standard type of informational signage and should be placed in high-traffic areas like lobbies and elevators. Other types of informational sign include “Staff Only” and “Authorized Personnel Only” which lets you know where you can’t go. Ah, Cardiology is in Building R, 4th Floor. Whoops, can’t go that way!
However you decide to layout your wayfinding program, it needs to be concise and consistent. A well-planned system makes a happy and confident visitor which, in turn, makes a happy and confident customer.