The Top 5 Wayfinding Design Principles

Everything you should consider when it comes to wayfinding design principles.

Wayfinding is an essential aspect of our everyday lives. In fact, wayfinding is so pervasive that it has become second-hand nature: we simply go about our days using street and road signs, aisle labelling in supermarkets, information kiosks at train stations or airports, and so on.

In a way, you could say that humans are wired to look for cues that help them find their way around. Our early ancestors devised multiple ways of navigating the world that surrounded them, from the Polynesian star compass system to Indian tree markings or Roman stone pillars. Nowadays, we may not guide ourselves by the stars, but the need to orientate ourselves in places we don’t know or in new situations is still here. Think about the popularity of GPS navigation systems and of wayfinding tools like Google Maps, which are now considered “can’t do without” resources. The only thing that has really changed is the unprecedented growth of technology. The rise of new tech is helping create digital spaces, which just like physical spaces, need to be designed and built with purpose and making sure users can find their way around them easily.

In today’s post, we take a look at the five most important wayfinding design principles that can help you create intuitive and responsive digital or physical spaces.

1. Make It Findable

Landmarks are invaluable when it comes to helping people get from A to B, as they are what we rely on to answer key questions like where I am, where I want to get, and how easy it is to replicate the suggested route to our destination.

This is why it’s absolutely essential to include landmarks in every physical digital space. Memorable landmarks make navigation easier and help create a strong mental association between place and destination – in other words, they help people orientate themselves so they can find what they’re looking for.

2. Make It Searchable

As a space planner, you’ll want to make sure store that people can search for things or places as soon as they enter a new space. Modern technology relies heavily on searchability and indexing, as this saves time and contributes to a more enjoyable experience. Searchability is particularly useful in digital wayfinding solutions like directory kiosks at shopping centres, which let shoppers take a more active role in choosing and finding their destination.

3. Make It Interactive

Speaking of a more active role, the best wayfinding experiences are interactive. The effectiveness of interactive wayfinding design lies on finding a half-way point between discovery and guidance, offering users some degree of autonomy but at the same time gently pointing them in the right direction. Interaction is key to engagement and is the underlying principle behind popular wayfinding solutions, like multi-touch kiosks at airport or video walls, as they draw the viewer in and provide a direct and powerful sensory experience.

4. Make It Mobile Friendly

For wayfinding solutions to reach as wide an audience as possible, they must be mobile friendly. One trend you may have noticed involves digital signage solutions being turned into apps, and this only makes sense considering that the number of global app downloads is growing exponentially year after year. Legible London is a great example of how successful mobile apps have incorporated wayfinding design principles.

5. Avoid Choice Overload

Sometimes, you may feel tempted to make things so easy for your audience that you actually make them difficult by giving them too many choices. You can avoid this by establishing a hierarchy of information, guiding your decisions by what people want or need to do in a given space. For example, using a task-based approach, urban planners have broken down entire cities into more manageable areas defined by tasks like shopping, sightseeing, relaxing, eating, etc., and urban signage is built around those actions. You can apply that idea to digital environments like information points, tourism kiosks, or public transportation hubs.

Expertly designed wayfinding saves time, makes life more efficient, and creates enjoyable experiences that can strengthen trust in your brand. To find out more about how to incorporate wayfinding design principles into your company’s operations, get in touch with the team at LamasaTech.

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