DALLAS,TEXAS – Wayfinding is a natural phenomenon that happens in a myriad of places. One might say it isn’t specific to an industry but is simply what we do naturally.
Take for instance the Internet. Wayfinding there is made up of search engines, links and a wide variety of websites that take you from one page of information to another on the “Information Super-Highway”. The gurus behind this vast network used the idea of wayfinding systems of the highways and roads as inspiration because they naturally make sense to most users. Large searchable sites allow you to find a specific company or product or simply explore a generic idea. It isn’t always direct – some times we stumble into them or get lucky, just like when we try to navigate a city for the first time. In the larger scheme, but there is a logical “Point A to Point B” approach to finding your way through.
Or consider your company website. With the never-ending design possibilities, your site could be designed to be easily navigate-able, or exceedingly complex. The goal is to make it as easy as possible to invite visitors to explore or to go directly to what they want to know with tantalizing visuals and concise content.
Wayfinding occurs in our brains and nervous system. The neurons that fire in the brain find their way through the body through a vast network of nerves to their target, signaling a response in the exact right place, making our heart pump, our fingers wiggle and our eyes constantly looking. And we all know doctors commonly recommend exercise and physical activity to keep these systems healthy and alert – keep the synapses firing!
When most people think of wayfinding, though, they think of finding their way in the built world. Wayfinding in the Environmental Graphic Design industry is important to us because, when done right, it promotes what we already do naturally – look for and follow cues that we think will get us where we need to go, whether signs or landmarks or floor patterns. What we as professional wayfinding consultants and designers provide is an easily understood experience by alining the navigational tools in spaces in which we work, learn, play and heal.