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For many people, especially first-time customers, patients, guests, and visitors, your hospitality or healthcare property, airport, business center, or college campus can be an intimidating place. Without good wayfinding signage, it’s easy for them to be become lost or confused when trying to find their way around, which leads to a level of unnecessary frustration and anxiety.

It's crucial to prioritize the development of an exterior and interior environment that immediately makes them feel comfortable and valued. Beyond merely posting signs, your wayfinding strategy is an opportunity to create a positive first impression and actively contribute to enhancing the overall experience at your location.

Uses for Wayfinding Signage

There are five general uses for wayfinding signs: Information, Direction, Identification, Safety/Regulatory, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. Each has a distinct purpose. Every successful wayfinding strategy deploys more than one along the paths their audience travels:

  • Identification Signage lets people know they’ve arrived at their destination. Signs should be easy to read at a distance and have colors that attract attention and stand out from the surrounding environment. 
  • Information Signage offers details that help people distinguish areas throughout a space. This signage should be kept brief and help visitors, customers, guests, and others find answers to common questions beginning with “Where is the …?” or “How do I get to the …?”
  • Directional Signage moves people from Point A to Point B efficiently and intuitively. It provides clear guidance that helps people navigate through unfamiliar places and keep traffic flowing at key decision points along their course.
  • Safety/Regulatory Signage reinforces safety standards and should leave no room for doubt that approached areas have restrictions on entry or approach. These signs also indicate acceptable behavior and standards and should be clearly visible to avoid misunderstandings.
  • ADA signage provides individuals with visual impairments information they need to easily move throughout spaces using signage that is crafted to address their needs. This signage helps identify permanent rooms or locations, offers directional informational, and indicates accessibility features.

6 Steps to Effective Wayfinding

1. Start with a Plan

Know your customer, patient, or guest well and coordinate wayfinding signage from their perspective. Should they turn right or left? How much time do they need to make a decision? Are the signs easy to read? Most importantly, does your wayfinding signage work together to guide your audience to and from their destination with clearly defined signs every step of their way?

Consider all the locations and places where they would ask your staff for directions. This would include parking lots on business centers, campuses, and healthcare properties, in lobbies and high-traffic areas, along corridors, or at hallway junctions. 

2. Keep it Simple

Keep in mind that your audience is most likely on the move, so don’t give them several choices to consider. Be direct and relevant with your wayfinding signage, with a focus on making text easily readable and using iconic directional symbols to minimize language confusion. Just give your audience the facts they need to make informed decisions as they travel about your property and throughout your building.

Digital directional signs and information kiosks can provide extra dimensions to wayfinding and add elements of interactivity into the guest and visitor experience.

3. Stay on Brand

Consistency in brand colors and fonts makes a big difference in breeding familiarity and comfort when people are in new surroundings. Use graphic elements that reinforce your brand and use signage that reflects the unique personality of your business. Include recognizable logos and images only if they do not distract from the message you want to communicate or make the signage difficult to read.

Effectively weaving brand elements into signage can be a challenge, and keeping a balance between form and function is always a priority, with the later being the primary concern. When that balance is established, audiences will confidently navigate your space and associate your brand with success.

4. Location Really Matters

Your wayfinding signage will be of little value to your audience if it’s not positioned where it can easily be seen and is not placed where it provides the information needed at that point. Signs should be visible with no obstructions. For large areas with multiple buildings consistency in placement matters, but color-coding and fun designs can help distinguish locations and create a sense of community and identity across large campuses, airports, business centers, hospitality properties, or hospitals.

The size of your sign will depend upon where you’ll be setting it up and the distance from which it will be seen. It’s optimal that it be placed at a height where viewing is easy and where it stands apart from its environment.

5. Be Creative

In many settings such as in hospitals or airports, a key goal of your wayfinding signage strategy is giving your patients or customers the most stress-free experience possible. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. There are lots of ways to show off your brand on walls, ceilings, floors, elevators doors, and with digital displays that make the time people spend at your location unique and memorable.

You can also get creative with the shapes and sizes of your wayfinding signage to spruce up otherwise boring waiting rooms, airport terminals, hotel lobbies, and convention halls.

6. Use Architecture, Landscaping, and Landmarks

Use memorable, unique, or noticeable features of your building and property to create especially distinct wayfinding signage. When you incorporate recognizable points of reference into your wayfinding, you make it easier for audiences to establish a detail of orientation from which to base decisions. It’s possible to use landscaping and landmarks like fountains, statues, or other structures to serve as the focus of layout, establish a visual identity, and showcase locations on maps and directories. Incorporating wayfinding signage into existing structures, lets you create a more holistic experience that reinforces connections between spaces and the movement of your audience.


When your customers, patients, guests, students and visitors arrive at your location, they have one objective: to get where they came to go. The choices you make with your wayfinding signage strategy can make sure they get there without stress and feeling welcome.

Posted in Signage | Posted on 01/02/2024