Almost all types of business require directional signage in one form or another. Even though you might not realise how much you read and use them every day, they’re crucially important in all kinds of settings.
They aren’t just the signs showing you where the tills are in supermarkets — they’re an important tool for improving the experience of customers, employees and clients to a point where your business functions better as a result.
The world of retail is naturally the first scenario that comes to most people’s minds when they think of directional or wayfinding signage. Just try finding your way around a large department store without looking at the large monolith signs by the escalators, which tell you which products you’ll find on various floors.
It’s more than the simple fixed signs, too, as digital displays are increasingly popular. These are particularly useful in places like shopping malls, where visitors want to both see an overall map of the centre and search for the location of a specific store or outlet.
Traditionally, this would have meant the fiddly process of cross-referencing a map with a key (which might even be out of date). Now, though, a digital display can tell them instantly where to go. It can also be easily updated, as individual stores switch and get replaced, thereby making sure that your signage is always up to date and avoiding the cost of renewing signage or reprinting maps.
In all retail settings, the purpose of directional signage is to streamline the customer’s journey and make their visit a more stress-free experience. The more the signage can do to help prevent them from feeling lost, the better — whether that’s through explaining the layout of the store or highlighting the location of specific things, such as tills, cafés or information points.
Relax and ease the visitor
Remember, the more pleasant and relaxing customers find a shopping experience to be, the more likely they are to both spend more time there and to return.
Retail isn’t just the only type of business in which directional signage is important, though. In any setting in which people might be nervous, the signage has a need to be clear and easily understood in order to not exacerbate things further. Hospitals, courts and universities — all of which are often based in confusing, complex buildings in which unfamiliar people may be anxious, have a need for clarity.
Speed and clarity
Transport hubs — particularly airports — are places where easy navigation is crucial. Many, if not most, of the visitors there will be unfamiliar with the site’s layout.
These are also places where people might need to be able to find their destination very quickly, if they’re running late or only have a short time to make a connection. For this reason, it’s important that they are as clear as possible, able to be understood at a quick glance without being misinterpreted.
At interchange stations, for example, signage for different modes of transport should have individual styles. You don’t want a traveller to head to rail platform three instead of bus stand three, only to have to double back and risk missing their bus.
The way in which people use spaces of all types has become all the more important. When they visit somewhere new, a wayfinding system that’s easy to understand is the perfect solution to help visitors make the most of their experience.
Don’t forget its other purposes
Big office buildings, meanwhile, show off another use that carefully designed directional signage has.
The wayfinding signage, particularly at the entrance and ground level, is the first impression that visitors will get. It’s therefore important to set out your business’s identity, rather than simply its name.
All signage is a marketing opportunity to extend the reach of your brand. Designing it with your company’s house colours, fonts and logos helps visitors to associate your specific brand with the experience they are about to have.
Museums are a particular example of where more creative signage can be particularly useful. Digital signage solutions here can perform the dual purpose of assisting visitors’ wayfinding and giving additional information about exhibits, as well as advertising upcoming events. They can also easily adapt to changing exhibitions, saving the cost of remaking the sign.
Wayfinding signage is extremely important for businesses of all types, not just the retail examples that initially come to mind. Commercial digital signage takes this even further and moves into the realm of adding several other uses — from giving extra information about visitor attractions to allowing the booking of appointments in GP surgeries.
To see the range of uses that our customers have found for digital signage, take a look at the types of interactive digital signage solutions that we offer.