Last edited 15 Mar 2021



[edit] Introduction

Wayfinding is a method for relaying messages to help people navigate their way around a room, building or other unfamiliar environment.

It is particularly important in large, complex buildings, such as hospitals, educational facilities or transport terminals. Wayfinding can help create a positive impression of an organisation when it is implemented effectively.

[edit] Universal messaging

A uniform style is considered desirable for wayfinding consistency and clarity. Standardised colours, fonts, icons and sign shapes can also improve universal recognition.

The following colours are generally associated with specific basic responses:

  • Green for safety.
  • Red for emergency.
  • Yellow for caution.

These three colours are easily identified by most people, regardless of age and other demographic factors, but other colours are also commonly used to represent different common messages.

[edit] Forms of wayfinding

Signage is the most common form of wayfinding, but architectural features and other objects can also be used to guide people through buildings.

In multi-storey buildings, flooring and wall coverings can be colour coded for quick recognition. This technique is frequently used in large car parks, hospitals and care homes (particularly in those where residents may be living with vision or memory impairments). While colour coded finishes do not replace traditional wayfinding methods, such as directional arrows, pictograms or clearly worded signs and numbered floors, it can enhance it.

Lighting can also be used as a form of wayfinding, particularly in long corridors. Emergency exit lighting illustrates how wayfinding can be used to guide people to their destination.

Textures (particularly in floor coverings), ambient sounds (such a music) and even smells (such as those associated with kitchens or restaurants) can also inform wayfinding decisions.

Brand recognition can assist with wayfinding, particularly for commonly-recognised colours, logos and shapes, such as the Underground symbol, the golden arches and so on. Brand styles may also influence the design of wayfinding strategies and components.

[edit] Elements of effective wayfinding

Characteristics that might contribute to successful wayfinding include:

NB On 2 April 2020, in response to the Building a Safer Future consultation, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP announced steps to introduce mandatory sprinkler systems and consistent wayfinding signage in all new high-rise blocks of flats over 11 metres tall. For more information see: Government response to the Building a Safer Future consultation.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External references

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