Design Principles of Wayfinding Solutions

At Behrends Group, our design team uses the most modern and innovative design principles to come up with incredible signage and wayfinding solutions. Ultimately, wayfinding is based on navigability – how easy it is to move through a space – and we operate on some of the following ideas (adapted from MIT) to ensure that navigability reaches its maximum potential. We create a sense of space and help your clients move through it without even realizing the complex system behind their movement. The best systems appear simple and intuitive, while taking professional teams with years of strategic experience to create them.

1.Create an identity at each point of identification. Every location that you want a client to stop should have its own unique identity to help people recognize when they have “arrived”. This also helps clients to understand this location’s place within the larger built environment by allowing them to easily identify and label spaces in their memory. This principle is built on the idea that every space should function as a kind of landmark to help orient your clients. If they feel dis-oriented, their feelings within your branded environment will be negative as a result.

2. Create paths of movement that are structured well. It might seem a bit odd, but human beings actually have preferences for the types of paths they like to take and these often follow a narrative structure: they have a clear beginning, middle and end, regardless of the direction they are viewed from. This is especially important in places like museums where the spaces and the exhibits seek to tell an actual story. A space such as this can also be designed along a timeline which will intuitively guide viewers through the space based on chronological spatial movement.

3. Divide spaces using colour schemes or other distinct visual attributes. It can be a lot for someone to take in if a single, large space uses the same colour scheme and other visual markers throughout, particularly if not everything in that space is closely related. There are ways to use typeface and branding to create a certain level of cohesion through the signage of a building, but if there are any intuitive points of division (ie. between faculties on a campus, or between grade levels in a school) that can be marked by different, subtle attributes, it is best to create these divisions. These subtle markers help people organize their space and recognize when they have entered a region that is not related to where they were prior, despite being within the same business or organization.

4. Limit your client’s options. While this seems to be the opposite principle to how businesses tend to operate in giving their client’s a great many possibilities by way of products and services, when it comes to wayfinding less is always more. Giving your navigator limited room for error and maximum possibilities for success (ie. as many routes as possible that lead to the same coherent destination), ensures that their experience within your built space is a positive one.