What is Wayfinding Signage - 2022 Guide to Improving Your Wayfinding Signage

Although you may not realize it, wayfinding signage is a constant fixture in our everyday lives, guiding us to where we need to go. Today, we will look at what wayfinding signage is and how it can be effectively used to teach new visitors about a location and how to quickly familiarize themselves with the area. 

What is wayfinding signage?

Wayfinding signage is any signage that helps direct individuals around and within a business, institution, or other physical destination. Its purpose is to guide visitors from one point to another  via simple visuals. At its most basic, wayfinding signage needs to be both visually attractive and easy to understand for all users. 


Why is wayfinding signage important?

No one likes getting lost, and navigating complex environments such as transportation facilities, healthcare settings and educational campuses can be stress-inducing while wasting people’s time. Wayfinding signage assists with this issue by:

  • Creating a safer environment
  • Directing foot traffic 
  • Reducing crowds and congestion at choke points
  • Enabling a better customer and visitor experience
  • Generating brand awareness
  • Quickly familiarizing new visitors with a novel environment

Types of Wayfinding Signage Categories

Wayfinding signage comes in many different forms, and is categorized by its intended purpose and design:

1. Identification Wayfinding Signage

Identification wayfinding needs to be easy to see and understand at a glance. Its purpose is to guide individuals to their destination quickly and easily. For example, suppose an individual is visiting a city’s historic district for the first time. In that case, wayfinding kiosks and signs will help them identify their current location and provide directions to where they need to be. 

Examples of identification wayfinding signage include:


  • Historical markers
  • Door plaques
  • Department markers for office buildings
  • Donor plaques: park benches; monuments


2. Regulatory Wayfinding Signage

Regulatory wayfinding signage is designed to set boundaries and ensure the safety of all individuals, so ensuring it can be universally understood is key. Its primary function is to establish and reinforce safety standards and enforce privacy rules, so it’s generally bold, bright, and easy to see and understand, even if someone doesn’t speak the language on the sign.

Examples of regulatory wayfinding signage include:

  • Speed limit signs
  • “Employees only” signs
  • “Wash hands” for health and food institutions
  • COVID face-mask signs
  • Caution
  • High Voltage
  • No Pets

3. Directional Wayfinding Signage

Directional signage helps individuals get from place to place via bold graphics and short, simple wording. Its purpose is to steer foot and vehicular traffic to and through various destinations to prevent clutter and congestion. For example, a sign will direct visitors along a given path; the individual follows the path to arrive at their destination. 

Examples of directional wayfinding include:


  • Highway exits and entrances
  • Street signs
  • Directional signs within office buildings, educational campuses, and healthcare institutions
  • Junction signage



4. Informational Wayfinding Signage

Informational wayfinding signage is designed to provide information about an area such as a lobby or waiting room, as well as the environment around it. It should be able to answer common questions such as “Where is the bathroom?”, “Where is the elevator?”, “How late is this store open?”, or “Is there free Wi-Fi?” 

Typical examples of informational wayfinding signage include:

  • Amenities (wi-fi; elevator locations) 
  • Facilities signage (bathroom; cafeteria; drinking fountains; building exits)
  • General business information( hours of operation; building management information) 
  • Directory services (first-aid, store locations)

 Guidelines for Wayfinding Design and Implementation

Wayfinding signage should be designed as simply as possible while still being noticeable and easily understandable. Core components of effective wayfinding include:

wayfinding strategy for 2020.

Unique Designs

Unique designs are key to effective signage as they will need to compete with many other visual signals for attention. Therefore, effective wayfinding signage must be distinct and easily noticed when placed alongside other signs. A stop sign is a good example of wayfinding design that is unique and nearly universally recognizable. It stands out even when placed in busy intersections alongside other signage.

Clear Understanding of Sightlines

Taking into consideration the sightlines of the environment in which the signs will be placed will help ensure that signage is easy to see and identify by the intended audience, and not blocked by buildings, trees, or even other signs.

Emphasize Decision Points

Signs need to be located at intersections or “decision points.” By placing signs at these important junctures, users are able to confirm that they are still on the correct path to a given destination Freeway signs are examples of decision points, with these signs displayed prominently on the freeway or interstate to indicate how far an individual is from a given city or exit.  

Integrate Well-Known Landmarks

Landmarks provide a way to help users navigate an area without adding manmade signage into the environment. Unique trees, buildings, statues and parks are all examples of landmarks that can be used to help individuals orient themselves in a new environment. 

Keep it Simple

Signage needs to be clear and concise without any complicated designs that may overwhelm or confuse the user. Transportation signs provide a clear example of this design philosophy, including subway schedule signs; freeway exit signs; and bus stop signage.

In short, wayfinding signage is intended to help individuals make their way to a given location. With proper wayfinding signage, new visitors can breathe easy and navigate new locations with ease. 

Although you may not realize it, wayfinding signage is a constant fixture in our everyday lives, guiding us to where we need to go. Today, we will look at what wayfinding signage is and how it can be effectively used to teach new visitors about a location and how to quickly familiarize themselves with the area. 

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