People’s Behavior: An Important Component in Wayfinding for Healthcare
Implementing an effective wayfinding system requires a complete understanding of how people navigate their surroundings. This understanding, which is intrinsic to the science of wayfinding, is especially important in developing signage for hospitals, where organization and efficiency are critical. There are several academic case studies that use elevated language to describe how human behavior influences the choices that people make, including how they orient themselves. However, for our purposes, we’ll stick to a basic explanation of the ways in which behavioral science translates into practical applications for healthcare wayfinding.
Your brain is capable of storing an incredible amount of information. A lot of this data shapes how you relate to and find your way around an environment. Processing information in a demanding situation is difficult, though, and the majority of people who enter a medical building do so in times of stress. As a result, simplifying and streamlining the content that you provide to hospital guests is elemental in easing their worries. Focusing specifically on the location, language and look of your wayfinding signage is the best way to accomplish this goal.
Some forms of signage benefit from discreet placement. Wayfinding in medical facilities, however, should be conspicuous. Upon entering a building in the midst of an emergency, visitors need to be able to quickly and effortlessly spot a display. Placing signage in a centralized location will maximize its visibility and viability. The essential nature of a hospital makes it commonplace to see guests who are afflicted with a variety of disabilities and ailments. This, of course, renders ADA-compliant signage a must. Consequently, universal design principles should be a top priority in creating a wayfinding system.
People who are experiencing stress don’t want to have to think too much, and they certainly don’t need to see confusing wording while in a rush. For these reasons, using concise, direct language is standard practice in drafting content for healthcare wayfinding. Try to limit any phrases to a few words at most. Also, studies have proven that universal symbols, such as arrows and depictions of staircases, are extremely useful with regard to accuracy and efficiency. They also are helpful in directing non-English speakers to proper departments.
While the express aim of wayfinding is to inform and direct the public, it is also possible to calm frayed nerves with just a few slight tweaks to the look of your signage. Using a soothing color scheme is a simple way to cater to your specific clientele. Another way is by eschewing serif fonts for ones that are clean, smooth and free of “feet.” This special touch may seem minute, but the difference is apparent when it is applied throughout a medical facility.
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