Finding your way around complex environments, whether it's a sprawling campus, a busy airport or a multi-story shopping mall, can be a daunting task. That's where wayfinding signage comes in. Wayfinding signage serves as a visual guide to help people find their way, reach their destination and improve their overall experience. There are two main categories: Indoor wayfinding signs and outdoor wayfinding signs. The main differences and roles of the two categories are explained below.
Indoor wayfinding signage:
Indoor wayfinding signs are designed for use inside buildings and enclosed spaces. Their main purpose is to direct visitors, customers or employees to specific destinations within a building, such as offices, restrooms, stores or conference rooms.
Clarity and simplicity are the name of the game when it comes to interior signage. Clear fonts, pictograms, and directional arrows are typically used to ensure ease of understanding.
Signage may include floor plans, maps, and directories to help users find their way and plan their routes.
Braille or tactile signage may be required to assist the visually impaired.
Indoor wayfinding signs are typically found in a variety of indoor environments, including hospitals, universities, shopping malls, office buildings, museums, airports, and convention centers.
Common types of indoor wayfinding signs include wall-mounted signs, hanging signs, floor graphics, elevator and escalator signs, and digital displays with real-time updates.
Interior signage materials often focus on esthetics. These include materials such as acrylic, aluminum and high-quality laminates.
Digital signage with interactive touchscreens and real-time updates is becoming increasingly popular for indoor wayfinding.
Outdoor Wayfinding Signage:
Outdoor wayfinding signs help people find their way in open spaces such as streets, parks, campuses, and parking lots. They help people find their way around specific locations in these environments.
Outdoor signage must be able to withstand various weather conditions and be easily visible in different lighting conditions. For this reason, durable materials such as metal, weather-resistant plastics, and reflective coatings are often used.
Arrows, directional markings, and distance information are often used on outdoor signs to effectively guide users.
Outdoor wayfinding signs can be found in urban environments, parks, campuses, highways, airports, and public transit hubs.
Typical outdoor wayfinding signs include street signs, directional signs, parking signs, and campus maps on stelae.
Durability is critical for outdoor signage, so materials such as aluminum, steel, stone and high-impact plastics are often used. Reflective materials improve visibility at night.
While outdoor digital displays are less common due to environmental conditions, some outdoor wayfinding signs use QR codes or smartphone apps to provide additional information.
In summary, indoor and outdoor wayfinding signs serve different but complementary purposes. Indoor signage helps people navigate complex buildings, while outdoor signage guides them in open spaces and urban environments. Both types of signage are important for improving the user experience, ensuring safety, and efficiently directing people to their destinations. Advances in technology, including digital signage and mobile apps, are improving the effectiveness of wayfinding systems in both indoor and outdoor environments, making navigation more convenient for everyone.