The first question most people ask is “How much will wayfinding signage cost?”. This is a very shallow approach which overlooks the impact wayfinding signage has on your organisation.
The first step is to look beyond signage and understand where, why and how much wayfinding affects your organisation. There are a number of elements that contribute to wayfinding effectiveness and these include touch-points, such as written and verbal communication, architecture, interior design, and staff to customer interaction. Each of these disciplines need to coordinate with the others in a consistent way to provide users with an ease of access to your product or service.
Build it. Will They Come?
First they must find their way to you, either to a bricks and mortar location or along a digital pathway to your online door. Aha! wayfinding. Now most people are persistent and depending on their need they will battle through barriers to get to you. Ultimately though, people will travel the path of least resistance whether it is to your door, or to a competitor.
The Value of the Problem
For retailers, barriers that hinder people getting access to your product or service mean that the dollars invested in stores, stock and advertising could be going waste. Good or bad wayfinding signage also impacts on the customers’ experience with your brand and could affect long term loyalty, or word of mouth marketing. How many times have you heard, “I hate going to that shopping centre. I can never find where to park and I always get lost.”
In complex facilities where there are many first time visitors poor wayfinding can cause a great deal of pain to both morale and the cost of running the facility. In some recent studies conducted in three major hospitals it was found that in excess of $2 million dollars per year of staff time was being wasted where staff were taken away from core healthcare activities to act as traffic cops, directing and escorting visitors around the facilities.
The Value of the Solution
Once you understand the value of the problem then the value of the solution is put into perspective. It needs to be looked at as an investment with a positive, measurable return. Measuring the value can be through staff productivity, increased sales, increased traffic, removal of barriers, and better customer feedback results. The specific measurement depends on your business case and the current set of problems you face. For a retailer, it could be an increased amount of customers through the door. For a hospital, it could be saving $2 million dollars a year.
Where to Start
1. Locate the pain: Where is poor wayfinding affecting our business?
2. Assess the value impact: How much is this affecting us?
3. Engage expert advice: Seek out expert wayfinding signage advice that can assist you in developing a solution. It’s more than just arrows on signs.
3. Develop a strategy: To deal with the situation take into consideration all wayfinding elements.
4. Set your goals: Look at the ROI. You want to get the best possible value.
5. Take action: Removing the pain, reducing barriers, creating consistency and being more effective adds value to your business.
Start today by thinking about the painful parts of your business where ease of access to your products or services are hindered by poor wayfinding. Do as Walt Disney did, take a walk in your customers’ shoes to discover how easily customers can find you and feel how good or bad the experience is along the way.