The Benefits of Using Interior Signs for Wayfinding in Commercial Buildings

When you think about signs, you probably imagine the kinds of signs that exist outdoors– advertising businesses and restaurants to people in the area, letting them know where to go for food, or an oil change, or affordable home decor.

But the signs that exist indoors are just as important. We’re talking about the signs referred to as wayfinding signs. Have you ever heard of them?


What are wayfinding signs?

Whether the term is recognizable to you or not, you’re definitely familiar with wayfinding signage! If you’ve ever been inside a restaurant (or an airport, or a hospital, or a school…) and tried to locate the bathroom, you’ve utilized wayfinding signs.

When you spot the high-contrast signs depicting the silhouettes of a man or woman, accompanied by “RESTROOM”, you’re using wayfinding signage to locate your destination.

Wayfinding signs are used for many other purposes beyond restrooms, of course. Any hospital, school, or large public building utilizes wayfinding signage to help people find where they need to go, as quickly and efficiently as possible and without needing to stop and ask for help.

These signs are used to label classrooms by number, or indicate where elevators, stairwells, and fire exits are located.

Why are wayfinding signs important?

While wayfinding signs are used for strictly practical purposes, it’s helpful to think of them as a tool for designing an experience.

Consider two different scenarios.

In the first, you enter a large hospital, in search of a specific room, where you’re visiting a loved one who’s recovering from surgery. 

This hospital has zero signs inside of it– the people who work there are familiar with the building’s layout and don’t need signs to find where they need to go. You’re unable to figure out which floor leads to which unit of the hospital, and definitely unable to figure out where your loved one’s room is located!

Instead of focusing on paying a visit to someone who’s recovering from surgery, you’re forced to spend a long time wandering around the building, looking in doorways to hopefully spot the person you’re trying to visit. This wastes a lot of time in your busy day, and by the time you finally find the correct room, you’re tired and grumpy.

In the second, you enter a hospital that makes excellent use of wayfinding signage. As soon as you enter, there’s a sign indicating which units are located on which floors, as well as where you can find elevators and stairwells.

When you arrive at the correct floor, all of the rooms are clearly labeled. You’re able to find your loved one’s room and spend as much time as you want visiting with them!

Obviously, the second scenario is ideal. Wayfinding signs help people enjoy a positive experience inside a building or business, finding what they need independently without having to ask a busy employee to help them.

St. Mark's ACM Panel Face

What other purposes do wayfinding signs serve?

When you picture a restroom or stairwell sign, there’s another very important component beyond just the simple iconography and clearly legible text.

These signs, as required by law, have braille text on them as well. This means that people with low vision can quickly ascertain where they are in the building and what purpose each room serves.

It’s also required by law (specifically, the ADA) that these signs are designed with high-contrast colors and a certain text size– making them even more accessible to people with low vision, who might not be able to easily read a sign with tiny text or colors that are too similar in color value.


How can I best use wayfinding signs in my business?

For many businesses, wayfinding signs are a legal requirement– and you might face hefty fines if you don’t have them. This means that wayfinding signs are not only helpful, but necessary.

In order to effectively use wayfinding signs, you should speak with sign experts– like the ones right here at Pinnacle Signs!– in order to determine which signs you need and where they need to be installed.

If you’re ready to get started with your building’s wayfinding signage system, we’re here to help! Give us a call today.

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