According to Wikipedia, wayfinding refers to “all of the ways in which people orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place.” But for any venue operator wayfinding should be much more than just providing maps and directions to help people along: rather, it is an opportunity to connect with visitors.
Navigational signs and notices can go above and beyond merely assisting people in finding their way in public spaces.
For one, wayfinding signs reflect the venue itself, affecting and reflecting the environment they are placed in and enhancing the visitor experience. Done correctly, and they will save time and reduce frustration for people looking for their destination in an unfamiliar environment. If too few, too many or too confusing, however, the exact opposite effect will be achieved. After all, situations when out of date, cluttered and hard to read maps and directions only served to increase the stress of being in a new place are not unknown to any of us.
And because any venue operator aims to present itself in the best light possible while also streamlining its operations and making them cost effective, industries from healthcare to universities, from concert halls to parks and stadiums are increasingly turning to digital solutions to realize wayfinding.
More than where and how, digital wayfinding can become an ideal platform of providing supplementary information about the venue. Among them are community news and announcements, service descriptions, highlighting major destinations and listing upcoming events.
Highly visible, digital wayfinding signs also one up traditional signage by providing information specifically targeted to an individual visitor. From medical institutions to school campuses, digital signs can offer anything from personalized maps which take a user from their current location to their destination with turn by turn directions, to touchscreen pop-up notifications which provide exactly the desired information without cluttering the screen.
However, an important thing to remember in selecting digital wayfinding is the fact that not every solution will do.
In wayfinding especially it is crucial that the signs are located exactly where they are needed and that they are easily decipherable, clear and comprehensible enough to be understood. Only by selecting the right technological platform digital wayfinding can fit into just about every environment and circumstance.
An electronic paper sign, for example, will require no cables, running on batteries for months on end or achieving self-sustainability through the use of solar power, all the while providing impeccable visibility even in the bright sun of the campus grounds or the fluorescent light of the lobby.
Updatable from a single central location, via Wi-Fi or 3G, electronic paper will emit no light pollution and will never succumb to that most awful of technical failures, the dreaded empty screen - because of how electronic paper works the display will never not show information. This means that even if the power runs out, an e-paper screen will still display the last content uploaded - and will continue to do so until this content is changed.
Even more, because several eink displays can be tiled together into XXL screens, the e-paper wayfinding board will always be exactly the right size.
Easily tested in practice even before actual deployment, electronic paper signage is an ideal digital wayfinding platform to replace the traditional faded, weathered static maps and signs that need to be manually restocked and updated with every new announcement, construction, maintenance or another event.
In their place is a less expensive and time consuming solution - one that can provide a few signs’ worth of information on a single unit, all without having to get up from the desk to update the sign, making digital truly the way to go.
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