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-Communication design
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-Information ecology
-Wayfinding design


If you have a definition to share, we'd love to hear it. Please contact us.

A Definition of Wayfinding Design

-Navigating space and information

As the name "wayfinding" entails, wayfinding design (or "wayshowing", as it is otherwise known) is a practice of developing maps, signs and other signing artifacts that assist people in navigation. Physical spaces such as buildings, retail shops and other complex environments can be difficult to understand in their purpose or function, Wayfinding designers study these spaces and develop signing artifacts that help people know where they are and how to get to their desired destination. As a result wayfinding design helps to improve building efficiency and function by facilitating task-oriented behavior.

Luminant Design identifies at least five important sources of value with wayfinding navigation:

- Findability: Customers must see if you expect them to buy

  Vertical bus map signage image

Portland Oregon's Pedestrian Wayfinding
System demonstrates how wayfinding
can enhance the pedestrian experience
by revealing the city's richness in civic
destinations. See this project -

Wayfinding has the ability to raise awareness and drive traffic to destinations such as facilities and point of sale amenties. Employing signs as part of a wayfinding strategy not only adds value to business by directing traffic to your door, it also enhances the experience of discovery in unfamiliar environments. For first-time visitors this is important to generating a positive impression, however even repeat visitors will appreciate efforts to help them accomplish their tasks on repeat visits, such as locating merchandise or finding a specific area. Luminant Design finds that maps and signs that provide clear overview of amenities in a local area help to increase their use.

-Frustration: Clarity to prevent visitors from getting frustrated

Frustrated customers mean lost sales revenue. A good business knows how to respond to its customer's shopping behavior, whether it be exploratory browsing or goal driven searching. People expect to find the path to their destination quickly and easily, from the start of their trip to their arrival at a shop to the retail shelf. Frustration occurs when expectations for easy navigation is broken by ambiguity or contradictions arising from layout, obstructions or existing signs. Frequent revisions/addditions, aesthetic or engineering decisions can create confusing moments or obscured lines of sight. By identifying these trouble spots and producing a coordinated sign program that ensures clear navigation through them, wayfinding can improve efficiency of movement and space usage. Luminant Design believes that a good wayfinding sign program doesn't leave "dead zones" where your customers and visitors get lost and frustrated. Signage should direct people in a clear manner through the entire customer experience, from beginning to end.

-Safety: Visibility to reduce your liability exposure

Since your staff can't be everywhere at once, signage is often your front line of defense in situations involving emergency actions and prohibitory behavior. In the legal arena, wayfinding signage demonstrates a concerted effort to instruct and protect your customers with proper behavior through prohibition and emergency messaging. Good wayfinding signage complies with federal, state, and local legal codes, such as in the U.S. with the American with Disabilities Act.

-Efficiency: Saving your staff's precious time

Wayfinding signage is a tireless, consistent worker. Employing a wayfinding signage system reduces how much time your staff has to give frequently-asked directions to facilities such as restrooms. Reducing this demand frees up your staff to focus on more important, meaningful ways to provide excellent customer service.

-Image: Communicating brand character and image

There are many ways to use signage to communicate your brand. Luminant Design believes that all wayfinding signage presents a prime opportunity to reinforce a message about your business's character and image. This is a matter of both style and substance. In respect to style, wayfinding signage should help to define the boundaries of your space by complimenting your visual identity using the appropriate typography, color, and structure (especially in respect to existing brand standards). In respect to substance, wayfinding signage should show your customer-centric focus and effort to communicate clearly about your amenities.