The Five Major Pillars of a Wayfinding Program
By Dana Sher
Head of Product
Cloud-based wayfinding solutions put navigation at the fingertips of the people who need it most, whether it’s looking at directions on a laptop or walking through them in real-time on a smartphone. A wayfinding program needs to do more than offer a few simple maps or a directory list, though. Every good wayfinding program has five important pillars.
1. Point-to-point routing
In the physical sense, wayfinding signage is responsible for getting people around your facilities. But that relies on constantly reassessing their bearings at every junction. While a good wayfinding signage system will keep people confident about their trek, nothing beats the convenience of point-to-point routing. All they need to do is follow the line or watch their dot move through the digital map.
Point-to-point routing is especially convenient for larger facilities or campuses—areas where continuity of physical signage may be an issue. If someone exits Building A and enters Building C, they might not be able to pick up their trail again. Digital routing keeps them on-track, bridging physical uncertainties.
2. Maps and floor plans
Wayfinding maps are the simplest, most essential element of navigation. Being able to see the full scope of facilities provides context for the journey through them. Within modern wayfinding programs, these maps and floor plans come with extensive capabilities.
Scalability is a basic, yet integral feature. The ability to show real-time location within the context of the map is also a prominent feature. Many floor plans now allow for smart tagging, which lets administrators place icons or labels that display more information when clicked. Shifting between 2D and 3D views also helps provide context.
The more robust the map or floor plan, the more useful it is in helping people navigate. A good wayfinding program will build in as many map-related features as possible to assist users.
3. Directory integration
One of the most convenient tools for encouraging practical use of a wayfinding system is directory integration. Incorporating the employee directory unlocks a full range of opportunities for wayfinding. For example, in a few clicks, users can find exactly who they’re looking for and get directions to their desk. Pair wayfinding software with room booking software and the directory integration becomes part of a complete process for reserving space. The list of integration capabilities goes on.
Directory integration helps normalize wayfinding among visitors, employees, and anyone else within facilities. It bridges the two most fundamental aspects of wayfinding: people and places. Being able to find anyone, anywhere within a wayfinding ecosystem adds a powerful dimension to navigation.
4. Mobile accessibility
A cloud-based wayfinding system is a must-have for any facility. Even better is mobile accessibility. Mobile wayfinding access is so important that without it, a wayfinding system may be completely disregarded by the population meant to use it.
Consider the leap in convenience from viewing directions on a laptop, to watching those directions unfold in real-time on a smartphone. Imagine being able to take out a phone and position yourself anywhere in a facility, at any time. Try tapping on a room to get information about it as you’re walking into a building. The convenience is unparalleled, and it’s all rooted in mobile accessibility.
Wayfinding is no longer a one-way mode of communication. Modern wayfinding systems need a messaging element, because people expect answers as they navigate. They want to export directions to someone via text message. They need to share room information with a group on Slack. Whatever the case, there needs to be a way to take navigation data from a wayfinding system and communicate it to others who need it.
Help and assistance also exemplify the importance of messaging. Imagine being able to text “Where is Conference Room A?” and getting an auto response with directions. Or, being able to call the facility manager from the wayfinding app to get information about the facilities themselves. Messaging—via text, call, video, or chat—is an entrenched pillar of modern wayfinding.
Everything people need to not get lost
All these features add up to a wayfinding platform that accomplishes what it’s meant to do: provide guidance. Whether it’s employees trying to locate each other or a visitor to your facilities looking for a specific department, these five pillars enable quick navigation. More importantly, they work together to make even the biggest facilities feel a bit more manageable.
Keep reading: Wayfinding Best Practices.