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7 Best Practices for an Efficient Office Wayfinding System

Marcel Deer - Writer for POC System
By Marcel Deer
Michelle Meyer - Editor for POC System
Reviewed by Michelle Meyer

Updated January 24, 2023.

An office wall featuring wayfinding signage indicating towards the emergency exit, telephone, restrooms, and lifts.

Wayfinding is the practice of guiding people through spaces. Elements such as digital directories, maps, and signages have made navigating complex spaces much simpler.

Wayfinding is particularly useful for office spaces, especially if organizations have expansive, multi-floor buildings or multiple offices. Visitors and new staff members need an effective way to reach their destination without getting lost or wasting time in the process. With proper wayfinding systems, you can contribute to visitor and employee satisfaction by promptly ensuring visitors and employees get where they need to go.

Below are some best practices for an efficient office wayfinding system:

1. Ensure Messaging is Consistent & On-Brand

Start by ensuring your signage and messaging is consistent. This includes visual elements, color schemes, fonts, and logos throughout all of your wayfinding materials.

While it's crucial that your information is clear and easy to follow, also ensure that each sign acts as an advertisement for who you are and what you do. Your signage should never be wordy or distracting, but a distinct look or visual element can tie signage to your brand, creating instant visual recall and brand recognition.

2. Keep Signage Simple, Concise & User-friendly

Whether your signage is digital or physical, use simple fonts that are easily read from a distance. Keep the information clear and concise. Overloading your signage means visitors can't read them if they're in a hurry or viewing the signage at an angle.

If you want to provide more information than can comfortably fit on traditional wayfinding signs, digital signage is the ideal solution. Not only are these interactive and engaging, but they can also feature a digital directory or an interactive map informing visitors of their surroundings quickly and efficiently.

3. Leverage Colors to Simplify Navigation

Signage is often visitors' first impression of your workplace, so color choice can play a big role in how visitors perceive your space.

Consider color-coding your wayfinding signage for easy reference. For example, if you want people to go up or down, consider using green for “go up” and red for “go down”. You could also assign different colors for different departments and use those colors to indicate which floor a department is on.

4. Consider Placement & Visibility of Signage

Effective wayfinding signage must be well-sized and optimally placed where people will see it. Don't tuck away signs out of sight. Instead, make overhead placards visible and hang wall markers at eye level. Ensure all signage is strategically located in areas where visitors may need direction or guidance. If the look of your wayfinding isn’t instantly recognizable, tweak it until you get results.

5. Use Symbols & Icons Rather Than Words

Symbols and icons can often say more than words can, making them ideal for simplifying wayfinding signage. Symbols and icons can represent a place, an object, or a concept—just make sure the connection between the image and its meaning is obvious. For example, the symbols that indicate restrooms, stairs, or elevators are universal and well-known.

6. Don't Forget About Disability Access

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all businesses, especially if they allow public access, must have ADA-compliant wayfinding signage. This ensures that all visitors and employees can access the office space equally.

ADA compliance includes requirements regarding the placement and height of signages, inclusion of Braille or tactile letters, and clear readability with high-contrast colors (light on dark or dark on light) and large fonts. Non-compliance can result in legal and financial consequences.

7. Test Before You Invest

Before making final decisions about your wayfinding signage, you should test its effectiveness. Conduct user testing with real visitors and feedback. By gathering input from a cross-section of people, you ensure that everyone can conveniently navigate their way through your building.

Don't Lose Your Way

Whether you're designing a wayfinding system for a small office or an entire complex, simplicity is key to effective signage. By using colors, symbols, and icons to communicate directions clearly and concisely, you can help visitors easily navigate your space. And by leveraging the latest digital tools like interactive digital signage and tactile signs, you can create a wayfinding system that is modern, user-friendly, and accessible to all.

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