What is Wayfinding?
So, before we get in to the 10 steps to building an effective wayfinding system, it is obviously
important to understand what is wayfinding.
Wayfinding is essentially navigating through a venue. It is identifying your current location in a
venue and knowing where your destination is, and learning how to get to your destination from
your current location. An interactive wayfinding system gives clear markers of where you are
and how to get to your destination from your current location.
Effective wayfinding is important for any organization - corporate offices, university campuses,
retail malls, hospitals, government buildings, hotels, exhibition and conference centers and more.
Interactive wayfinding solutions are usually custom built, but some offer plug and play solutions
that let you create your own or use Google Maps to provide localized wayfinding. Our
experience shows that custom built wayfinding allows for flexibility and a plethora of design
elements and interactive content specific to your needs.
Advantages of Interactive Wayfinding
Besides providing a rich user/ visitor experience, the wayfinding solution also has the following key advantages:
1. Reduces staff cost and burden: This being a self-service solution, reduces the need for staff to
help direct visitors to their location.
2. Intuitive: It’s easy to find information and increases customer happiness.
3. Increased revenue: People spend more time at their destinations or point of transactions rather
than figuring out where to go
4. Personalization and targeted marketing: This also allows people to filter and get information that is relevant to them. With advanced technologies, we are able to dynamically show users information that is relevant to them based on their location.
10 steps to building an effective wayfinding solution
1. Define the objective:
What do you want to do, do you also want to advertise. Is it revenue generation or customer experience. Some design considerations are -
2. Gather and confirm digital assets
- Technology infrastructure
- Physical environment
- The size of the screen, orientation and number of screens
3. Visual Interaction
- Logo, Style and brand guidelines (preferably in a scalable vector format)
- Interconnection with databases and external feeds
- Information to run in screensaver mode to avoid screen burnout
- Point of interests to be mapped, number of buildings, floors, directories etc
- Key / general destinations such as restrooms, fire exits, prayer rooms, ATMs, elevators,
stairwells, escalators etc.
- Infrastructure/ Firewall restrictions
- Databases and external feeds to be integrated
4. Directing users
- Maps and other assets - CAD/ Vectors
- Map design - This is really what you see. The map design can be flat, 2D, 2.5D, 3D or
color-coded. 3D is a first-person perspective and looks eye-catching, but is not
appropriate for every project, especially in a complex venue. 2.5D is very popular and is
the trend now with the focus on wayfinding and not just visual appeal.
- Transcending the screen - Users can now take along a route on their phones from the
interactive wayfinding by means of an SMS or QR code. You can also prompt users to
share their email address to email them a map.
How do you want to show the path ways to the destination. There are so
many ways you can show the path - using just an indicator, highlight every area, draw an
animated path way or just show the destination. The best way is to design an easy and
intuitive design that focuses on one clear objective - quick screen clearance which allows for more users to benefit from the solution.
5. User Experience Design
If the venue has multiple floors, it is important to show the connectors between the floors and the most optimal connection based on the users preference - stairwells, escalators, elevators etc. and also the nearest option. Choose what works for your venue. It is important to send people the most efficient way I the real world and not just the shortest path on the map!
A consistent and functional user experience design is key. At this stage, we go through several revisions of wireframes and adjustments to color palettes. When designing, the target devices and its resolutions also need to be considered. IXFocus has delivered way-finding solutions which have a responsive design so images aren’t pixelated or stretched. Like any user design process, a real-world test is done by taking a non-interactive design image and viewing it on a target screen of the planned size and resolution.
With the design, functionality and map parameters approved, the software
development begins. This process usually takes time as it needs integration with multiple modules - graphics, database, pathway routing etc. When building a robust system, IXFocus also develops a custom content editor customized to the business’ specific requirements that allows for editing of information regarding point of interest.
7. Pre-Deployment Testing
After development, the team tests the interactivity, data connectivity
and display. Network testing and regression testing also happens at this stage. One important aspect is to test every single point of interest to see if all routes are being shown the right way and that the correct information is being shown.
Once testing is done, the solution Is ready to be deployed. At this stage, it is
important to optimize and standardize all assets of the way-finding to ensure scalability and maintainability for the future.
After the solution is live, gather end user feedback and tweak further. The end user isn’t necessarily the purchaser of the solution. People lose faith in a way-finding system that doesn’t work well, or gives inaccurate information, and stop using it. You don’t want to waste all your hard work, time and money.
10. Final Testing
After making the necessary tweaks, do a final testing. This is useful to
check if any new bugs have been introduced by the tweaks.
At IXFocus, we take our work seriously, but enjoy and have fun delivering real value to our customers. The more up-front considerations you have, the better the entire experience will be for your managers, designers, developers and users. The investment you make in this process goes a long way in reducing the total cost of ownership of the way-finding solution.
For a free consultation from our expert wayfinding consultant on how you can build a cost
effective interactive wayfinding, contact firstname.lastname@example.org