Wayfinding Signs for Convenience and Safety

weather vane wayfinding directions

A customer in a large store asks an employee where he can find a restroom. The employee points towards the back of the store. With a shrug, the customer heads back that way but can’t see any restroom signs. He thinks, “Maybe it’s behind these doors?” He pushes open the metal doors to the back storeroom. Still no restroom.

He decides to turn the corner, and before he can react, he is hit by a moving forklift and seriously injured. 

The forklift operator had no reason to expect anyone to be back there, but because the customer could not find the restroom he was looking for, he found himself wandering where he shouldn’t be. A simple lack of wayfinding signage could have cost him his life. 

While this scenario was fictional, the danger is very real. Keeping both visitors and employees informed with wayfinding signage is an essential part of keeping your workplace safe.

What is Wayfinding?

Simply put, wayfinding signs are signs that help people find what they need. From proper labeling of rooms to clearly marked exits, wayfinding signage can reduce confusion and increase safety. Here are seven types of wayfinding signs you should consider for your facility.

1. Entry and Exit

Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing where to enter a building you are visiting. You don’t want to go in the wrong door and end up where you shouldn’t be. The same goes for exits. All entry and exits should be adequately marked with signs to help people find their way in and out of your facility.

2. Emergency Exits, Routes and Equipment

When an emergency strikes, time is of the essence. All emergency exits should be easily identifiable. Evacuation routes should be marked on maps as well as signs throughout your facility that can be seen even during a power outage. 

Emergency equipment like fire alarms, extinguishers, AEDs,  and eye wash stations should also be clearly marked and easy to find and identify.

3. Directory

In a larger building or campus, it’s beneficial to have some sort of directory. It can be in map form or simply a listing of suite numbers. Having a directory, or a few directories, can take a lot of confusion out of finding a person’s destination. 

4. Room Identification

No matter how good your directions are, they won’t mean much if they can’t figure out which room is which. Signs that identify rooms are essential for helping people find where they need to be quickly. Consider signage for the following room types:

Be sure to consider the ADA Standards for Accessible Design when identifying your room identification signage needs.

This aluminum sign stands out from the wall and can be viewed from both sides.

5. Restricted Areas

Some parts of your business are not for the general public. Some may require specially trained personnel or specific PPE to be worn. These areas could be dangerous if the wrong person stumbles through the door unknowingly. Signs should identify restricted areas and outline any required precautions for those who are allowed to enter.

6. Directional

Sometimes wayfinding is as simple as pointing people in the right direction. If you have a one-directional traffic flow, your signs should keep people moving on the path. Even if your exits are clearly marked, people inside your building may need directional signage to point them towards those doors. 

7. Temporary

Sometimes things aren’t in their normal state. A floor is being redone, or a staircase needs repair. Temporary signage can redirect foot traffic, much like detour signs on the road. They’re essential for reducing confusion when things are a little out of the ordinary. Work zones come with their own hazards, and directing people away from these areas is a key safety component.

Discover Your Wayfinding Sign Needs 

To figure out just what kind of wayfinding signage your facility may need, do a walkthrough with a small group. Keep the different categories in mind, and periodically, stop and think about different scenarios. What if there were a fire? Could you find the nearest extinguisher or emergency exit? Are all rooms clearly marked? Are restricted areas identified?

Consider using custom branded signage throughout your facility. With your company logo and colors, your wayfinding signs will offer a consistent look and feel while displaying your brand pride. It’s an easy way to promote your brand while elevating your interior style.

Helping people find their way through your facility is a courtesy and a necessity. For the safety-conscious business, wayfinding signage is one simple way to move towards more accident-free days.