To provide “wayfinding” — maps and directions —for visitors, employees and others, many organizations are turning to digital signage as a more efficacious solution than the traditional printed signage, which can prove to be expensive and time-consuming.
Here’s a look at the types of wayfinding that organizations can provide using digital signage, an overview of what’s involved in setting up wayfinding digital signage (including the maps and routes) and the main components for a digital signage network that can providing wayfinding services.
Wayfinding on digital signage can range from the general (highlighting major destinations) to the personalized(showing a GPS-like view plus step-by-step directions). Similarly, the wayfinding information may be displayed in several different ways. What your organization chooses depends on not just budget, but the complexity of your physical environment, and whether you feel that visitors will need full, personalized information or can navigate given a modicum of digital signposts.
To best understand the options available, you need to understand the wayfinding map types and features, the type of information they contain and how it’s presented:
In addition to the displayed wayfinding information, some organizations supplement this with “directions to go,” either with hardcopy from a nearby printer or by enabling the user to access it via email, texting or QR codes.
Once you’ve decided to do wayfinding using digital signage, you have to implement it. The main steps involved in creating and deploying wayfinding digital signage, according to Doug Chase, product manager, Four Winds Interactive LLC, are:
1. Identify your goals, including what other information you want wayfinding to provide or link to.
2. Decide whether you want interactive or non-interactive signage.
3. Do the maps.
4. Figure out what other information or promotional content you want to use.
5. Decide where to position wayfinding displays. Likely locations include high-traffic areas, like entrances and exits; doors and reception areas; and at major branch points like lobbies, elevator/stair/escalator areas.
6. Maintain the databases.
“Remember that even if the physical structure doesn’t change, you want a database that you can update as people move, uses change and so on, since wayfinding may be tied to names rather than locations,” notes Sean Matthews, President of Visix, Inc.
As the name implies, a wayfinding digital signage deployment includes, and assumes, a digital signage system, whether it’s one or more standalone displays, or multiple displays connected by a network. The basic parts of any digital signage system are:
What’s different or additional about providing wayfinding?
If you want to provide touch-interactive wayfinding, the displays. Touch displays, or adding an aftermarket touch overlay to an existing display, typically doubles the overall cost of the display.“There are some nice touchscreen displays, but for larger form factors, like 50 to 60 inches, you almost always have to go to aftermarket add-ons,” notes Visix’s Matthews.Plus add the cost of the wayfinding software, and the time and effort for you, perhaps also with outside services, to create the maps and define the wayfinding.
Many wayfinding packages come from vendors already in one or more aspects of digital signage, particularly the content management piece. Visix, for example, offers its VisixWayPoint software; 22 Miles offers its Interactive Wayfinding Digital Signage; and Four Winds’ content management includes wayfinding features.
So if you’re already doing digital signage, consider adding wayfinding to its services — and if you aren’t, wayfinding may be the application that lets you kick start a project.