Wayfinding design is one of the essential elements of a hotel — without it, guests and visitors cannot navigate the space on their own. The right wayfinding design can improve your guests’ experiences, boost your branding, and make the space more functional.
However, too many hotels have wayfinding systems that are severely lacking in design and functionality.
If you are unsure about whether your hotel’s wayfinding system needs a refresh, read on for the five questions you need to ask about your wayfinding design.
1. Is it practical?
First, when it comes to wayfinding design, the overall system must be practical and usable. This means that every element serves a purpose and that guests benefit from the presence of each of them. Even the most beautifully designed wayfinding system is of no use if it doesn’t help visitors navigate the space around them.
In order to make your system more practical, you want to analyze how visitors move throughout the space and where they have to make wayfinding-related decisions. By starting to notice these moments, you will be better equipped to install effective wayfinding design.
Keep in mind that effective wayfinding is comprehensive, consistent, clear, and concise. By utilizing standard design elements throughout the space, you will be able to produce a higher level of uniformity, which will not only help everything flow, but will also keep guests engaged while generating an enduring impression.
2. Does it enhance a guest’s experience?
As a hotel, every decision you make should be in the hopes of improving a guest’s stay. Therefore, when analyzing your wayfinding system, you want to consider what it adds to the guest’s overall experience in the space. For starters, this means keeping the wayfinding signage simple with easy-to-read words and large-enough fonts. In many instances, you may want to utilize universal pictograms, which can often be extremely useful in conveying information.
Furthermore, you may also want to incorporate some wayfinding trends into your design. Some of the biggest wayfinding trends at the moment include 3D graphics, omni-channel experiences, and augmented reality (AR). All of these trends have the potential to enhance a guest’s experience because they are effective wayfinding tools, creating a great environment.
3. Is the system adaptable?
One of the most prominent mistakes hotels make when designing and implementing their wayfinding system is that they don’t consider the future and how the system will adapt as circumstances change. Over time, your hotel is going to evolve, and you want the wayfinding system to be able to expand along with these developments. For example, in the future, if the hotel opens a new fitness center, you want your current system to effortlessly incorporate this new set of directions and wayfinding decision points.
To have an adaptable system, the design of your wayfinding system needs to be timeless so that it doesn’t quickly seem outdated. To achieve this, you have to seriously consider the typefaces and icons that you incorporate into the design standard. As lighting, flooring, and color are all significant elements of a wayfinding system, these need to be picked to be adaptable and usable in the future.
For example, when it comes to flooring, there are plenty of designs that you can choose that lead the way. Modular carpet tiles are a popular option as they provide unique design solutions, and they are cost-effective. This type of flooring can be utilized for wayfinding by its pattern, color, installation direction, and material. That being said, you want to ensure you are selecting designs and patterns that will look aesthetically pleasing for longer than a season.
4. Does it represent our brand?
Wayfinding design can also be utilized as a useful branding tool that helps guests align with your brand as soon as they step foot onto your property. After all, you want to guarantee that every touchpoint with your guests is a positive, branded experience, and this includes your wayfinding design.
As a hotel, you want to ensure that your guests feel welcomed and safe from the moment they step onto your premises, and the right wayfinding design can help you accomplish this.
Furthermore, wayfinding signage can reinforce trust by including your brand colors and typography. By consistently conveying these branding elements, you are helping to encourage a feeling of connectedness in a guest’s subconscious.
In other words, branding transforms your wayfinding system into an immersive, memorable experience for guests. Whether the branding shows itself through the colors and materials you use, the aesthetic vibe, or the typography, the most crucial aspect is that it adequately represents who your hotel is and what it stands for.
5. Do we need to use signage and wayfinding consultants to improve the design?
In most cases, if you are asking yourself this question, the answer is probably a resounding “Yes!”
It is incredibly challenging to devise an effective and aesthetically pleasing wayfinding design system, which is why consultants in this field are in high demand. By working with experts, you can be assured that you will be implementing a wayfinding design system that can stand the test of time.
Whether your hotel requires a wayfinding design upgrade or a complete system change, consider partnering with a wayfinding design consultancy firm that can ensure that you have all the necessary elements included in your wayfinding design. From prioritizing functionality, to creating an immersive brand experience, to ensuring the design is adaptable to incorporating trends, these experts know what it takes to create the best wayfinding system possible.
When searching for potential signage and wayfinding consultants, you want to ensure they have plenty of experience in hotel wayfinding design as well as a strong team of out-of-the-box creative thinkers. Expertise and creativity are essential for any effective wayfinding design.
Does your hotel have stellar wayfinding design? Or is it something you are looking to upgrade this year? What do you think are some of the most essential elements of a wayfinding system? Share your thoughts and relevant experiences in the comments below.
Zak Zakaria is a Waymaker at dezigntechnic in Dubai who also previously worked as the company’s Graphic Designer and Art Director. Zak is a creative with work experience in multiple multinational agencies such as JWT and Saatchi & Saatchi. Signage design is a family business, making Zak’s personal experience with signage his longest professional commitment.