Environmental Graphics Play Just as Big a Role in a Successful Wayfinding Plan as Signage
The true measure of success of any wayfinding plan is efficiency and ease of understanding by the user…especially the first time visitor. Whether it’s an airport, a freeway, a hotel, ballpark or hospital, everyone is looking for information and direction that helps guide them to where they want to be.
We assume that an architectural signage solution with pictograms, arrows and Braille solve all of our wayfinding needs – and sometimes, that is a correct assumption – but we should not forget about the contribution that environmental graphics make to creating a comfortable and easy to understand wayfinding plan.
Good design focuses on the user and aims to improve a given situation for the user. User-oriented design provides an added value, whether material or immaterial, and thus increases the user’s satisfaction and life situation.
Wayfinding is not only about signage. There are other factors, which create an environment that is user oriented. For example, wayfinding starts way before there is any signage programmed for a project with architectural design that involves intuitive pathways. When we say “intuitive pathways” we are suggesting that a building has a specific flow that naturally leads the visitor to their desired destination. These pathways can be further defined with special sculptural or art pieces that give the end user a sense of place and/or helps them to remember a specific spot within the building. So, for example, someone might tell a friend, meet me by the red sculpture by the 3rd floor elevator.
Interior designers and environmental graphic designers often do research to determine what makes a certain geographical area unique and pull this into interior finishes to reinforce wayfinding. Using themed imagery on key wall areas or naming specific areas after historical figures or geographical names is common. Of course, this is all supplemented with a comprehensive signage program with easy to understand naming conventions, clear graphics and branding.
Check out these great examples of user-oriented environmental graphics that help orient people in unfamiliar spaces, but also help enhance the architectural details and atmosphere of the interior space.
Other things to consider when making a space easy to navigate can be integrating room numbering with phone numbers or an emergency call system. Mapping systems that include directories, hand held maps and electronic phone applications that are all consistent and integrated with the on-site signage.