By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
Employees can’t find each other. Visitors get lost. You’re growing and expanding so rapidly that departments are changing monthly. Your facility needs wayfinding software.
Your first instinct is to search free wayfinding software and make due with whatever offers the most features. It’s a great place to start. Getting a free trial or unpaid version is a great way to figure out what features are available to help you solve your wayfinding issues.
But a free download is just the start. Making the most of that free software means looking into its capabilities and evaluating how to implement it at-scale. Does it solve your problems? Does it offer you features for the future? Is the paid version worth it?
Let’s look at how to make the most of free wayfinding software.
1. Download a free trial
Before going all-in on wayfinding software, dip your toes in. Make sure it’s what you need and what you expect before making an investment. The best way to do this is to download a trial. Most top-tier, paid software models offer a free digital signage software download to get prospective customers excited about their products.
Be aware that most trials are either stripped down versions of the paid software or include locked features available only to purchasers. Don’t let this affect your experimentation. Pay attention to the overall usability of the software, the features it offers, its integration capabilities, and its reputation.
2. Explore the features and capabilities
Run through your free digital signage software and explore the features you can access at a base level. The usability of these features will help set expectations for what else the program has to offer and what it’s capable of. If the base features are clunky, the paid features likely are as well. Conversely, if you’re already deriving value from an unpaid, free trial version, it’s likely the full version is even more beneficial.
In exploring your free or trialed software, put it through its paces. Don’t just use it how you would normally—test drive as many capabilities as possible. If you pigeonhole your experience, you’ll never know what else free wayfinding software has to offer.
3. Test a small-scale rollout
Another way to experience free digital wayfinding software is through a small-scale deployment. Get it out there in the field and see how it performs.
Test an integration like Slack and see if you’re able to conveniently message directions to someone. Sync it to your company directory and have employees get directions to one another. Get “lost” in your own facilities and see if the app can find you and bring you back to familiar territory.
A small-scale rollout helps showcase the software’s functionality and practicality. If you’re testing wayfinding software, you’ve already recognized your need for it. Vetting applications in the field is a way to ensure you’re making the best investment to satisfy that need. Even on a small scale, wayfinding software should demonstrate value.
4. Pay for the full version
Once you’ve seen what your free wayfinding software can do and are satisfied, ditch the trial for a paid version. Get access to all the features and full capabilities before you scale up your integration and roll out a larger deployment. Licensing an app will likely get you access to training, tech support, and gated features essential to a smooth rollout.
Up to this point you’ve probably experimented on your own. Get some formalized training from the developer and ask specific questions about implementation at your facilities. This is the quickest way to become an expert on wayfinding software that’ll quickly become ingrained in your facility management operations.
5. Scale up your implementation
Equipped with formal training and a full version of the wayfinding software, build on the deployment you’ve already started. Integrate floor plans. Sync it to your company app. Extrapolate the features previously inaccessible in your trial version. Many software developers will also offer API access to paying customers, which enable custom integrations.
Continually test the wayfinding software as you integrate it into your processes and technologies. Make sure it works properly, as-intended. Run field tests and keep track of errors or miscommunications. Always circle back to the developer to get help solving problems.
6. Put it to work
When your wayfinding software is fully integrated in your facilities management ecosystem and thoroughly vetted, put it to work. Advocate its use amongst employees and position it front and center for visitors and guests. As exposure to wayfinding grows, so will adoption.
The root of a successful rollout is maximizing your initial free trial or access to a free version of the software. Learning by doing and organically discovering the benefits is a great way to understand why wayfinding software is a good investment and how it benefits your company.
Keep reading: get to know the four types of wayfinding signage.
Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash