Wayfinding meets interactive guest services to create the ultimate digital signage system

Interactive wayfinding is a fairly new concept, but is rapidly gaining familiarity and exposure. Wayfinding used to mean lines drawn on hospital floors, arrows pointing in various directions on campus and the time of staff consumed with assisting lost visitors, students and patients. Wayfinding has since transformed to become a convenient digital service that provides step by step text and line directions to any point indoors or out. Furthermore, digital wayfinding has expanded to offer smart phone access, department and staff directories, points of interest, “themed” routes for shopping and tours and even provides real time emergency alerts to ensure the safety of all users. Needless to say, wayfinding has advanced a lot.

Digital signage is also an easily recognizable service. You see it everywhere in cities and malls. Signage powered by computers. But what is interactive digital signage? Interactive DS is what you would imagine when someone mentions a “Digital concierge”. This is a service that you can interact with to learn what a restaurants specials are, what the hottest sales at the mall are or which events you should attend at the pier. Interactive digital signage is especially beneficial when placed in hotels.

So what happens when interactive wayfinding and interactive digital signage team up? SQ Link. A service that provides its users with local events, entertainment, dining, boarding pass access, flight times, transportation, internet browsing and interactive maps.

Imagine being able to upgrade your concierge services with a fast, reliable and visually impressive flat display showing an interactive map of your hotel and local area. Not only could you display the map, but you could enable your guests to scan a QR code or type in their number to have the directions accessible by phone.

Outside of providing local dining and entertainment options, SQ Link could be a potential additional revenue stream for your hotel. Any of the bars, restaurants, stores or events local to you could be featured as a first search result or on a rotating add, at a cost you set.

SQ Link is also completely customizable. You decide what colors and graphics are displayed, how the interface is laid out and you manage the content.

Managing the wayfinding aspect of the application is also easy; and with Wayfinding Pro you can build the system yourself with ease.

Interactive Wayfinding and digital signage is becoming a big part of the hospitality industry. Provide your guests with the convenience of all local info at their finger tips and generate an additional revenue stream for your hotel. Talk about easy money.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,


The following article was written on behalf of the Munson Medical Center in Traverse City Mich, in response to the challenges they face with wayfinding. I found this interesting as it brings to light the benefits of interactive wayfinding versus traditional static signs and floor graphics. The end result is an update in painting of different areas, handing out paper maps, and using the staff for directions. While this may be better than the alternative (not having anything in place) it is a short term solution, and stresses the need for interactive wayfinding.

“In 2012, the leadership for Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Mich., decided to address its confusing wayfinding system—again. They’d tried before in 2006, redesigning a system of colored floor lines into one anchored by public elevator cores and a new color/letter scheme to define locations. But between 2006 and early 2012, an incomplete rollout and a lack of internal education caused the program to languish, and complaints about wayfinding grew.

Munson’s internal wayfinding steering committee (see sidebar) brought in Corbin Design (Traverse City, Mich.) to revisit the 2006 plan to see if it was worth picking up again or whether a new system altogether should be considered. The next step was a series of Kaizen (continuous process improvement) events to test potential solutions.

Predicated on the rule that testing tools be inexpensive, quick to implement, and easily reversed, the Kaizen process allowed rapid prototyping of potential solutions, immediate feedback, and quick response with redesigned logic and tools. Using a volunteer group of MMC staff that made observations and asked questions of visitors three two-day Kaizen events were held. The test route for each followed the central spine of MMC on the ground floor. Using observation and feedback, the team was then able to develop final design solutions.

Kaizen 1, October 2012
Front-desk staff and volunteers were trained to direct patients and visitors to their destinations by referencing makeshift landmarks of balloons and large-scale paper signage. Balloons were matched to colors already in the elevator cores. The exercise identified a need for simplified logic to be communicated first, but that novelty works as part of the process: “Turn right at the blue balloons.” Printed maps were also shared with some visitors to test information and design.

Kaizen observations included:

Often patients/visitors mistakenly parked in the wrong lot, requiring a long interior walk to their destination. If they had been given proper parking information prior to their visit, it would solve many of the wayfinding challenges.
Patients/visitors are often under stress and are not as aware of their surroundings, walking past the information desk and greeters.
The personality and behaviors of the greeters affected people’s willingness to approach them, and poor acoustics in the lobby didn’t encourage conversation.
If patients/visitors stopped at the desk but weren’t escorted from that point, they were given the printed map to follow and sometimes were confused when they reached the first major corridor intersection. Interior corridors and elevators weren’t visible from the main corridor and needed to be enhanced.
Not all visitors understood or followed signage well but did respond to the temporary landmarks once they’d seen them.
Most visitors walked with their heads down or looking straight ahead.
The team learned immediately that, in order to resolve some higher-level wayfinding challenges, a new system of pre-visit communications would need to be designed for MMC staff and referring physicians, with staff education and customer service training required to enhance the visitor experience.

For the landmarks, in order to work properly, the test revealed that they must be visible, memorable, easily describable, and unique. The balloons worked because they met all of these requirements, which led the team to brainstorm more permanent solutions that would have the same impact.

It was also learned that existing signage was largely ignored. Initial feedback pointed to the overall quantity, lack of legibility, overhead location, and confusing organization of the current signs, requiring the team to remove and/or redesign much of the ground-floor signage for the next Kaizen. Because people tend to look down, the team hypothesized that higher-level wayfinding logic might be best placed on the floor, rather than overhead.

Kaizen 2, April 2013
Because Traverse City is located near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the team chose to test a large-scale image of a sleeping bear as a potential landmark at the intersection that was determined to be the most confusing to visitors. This image was also referenced on a redesigned version of the printed map.

The team installed large-scale floor graphics at key intersections that included a letter designation, color, and arrow direction to each elevator. These were specifically designed to be overt so people would see and respond to the directions provided. The signage on the walls was also redesigned to include color designations for each area, with enlarged type for each destination and increased contrast of the typography. Nonpublic destinations were removed from the signs to reduce the amount of information provided.

Finally, a redesigned version of the printed map included the color zone logic and removed nonpublic areas.

Kaizen observations included:

The presentation of the floor graphics was too large to be read and understood quickly and too simplistic; for many people, destinations such as the ED and cafeteria were still difficult to find. Some visitors also didn’t understand right away that the letters and colors on the graphics represented different areas of the building.
Those told to look for the sleeping bear landmark found it effective at indicating that they were on the correct path. Visitors reported that even when they forgot the other directions, they remembered this. However, some people didn’t appreciate the choice of a life-size bear.
In general, overhead signage was ignored in favor of the floor graphics.
Visitors requested that the printed map include exterior roadways and parking areas to help orientation.
In response to this set of observations, the administrative staff suggested several tools to communicate correct information to visitors prior to their arrival, including updated printed and Web-based maps.

While the bear landmark was memorable, the team decided that the image was too jarring and brainstormed other types of appropriate imagery. The success of the landmark concept, however, inspired the addition of a second landmark located in another primary intersection.

The floor graphics were redesigned in the shape of a compass that includes direction to interior “super destinations,” including the ED, cafeteria, and main lobby, as well as arrows pointing toward areas/elevators by using the letter and color designations. The redesigned wall signage, placed as paper mockups over existing signs, was found be successful but didn’t indicate the areas clearly enough. The team proposed removing overhead signs in the next Kaizen to determine whether they were being used.

Finally, for those who received printed maps, the inclusion of colored areas was positively received and worked well when used in conjunction with the floor graphics.

Kaizen 3, July 2013
Having established that the logic and floor graphics worked, the team now tested the idea of “progressive disclosure” on directional signage, or the concept that visitors should first be directed to the appropriate area of the building, then the building level of their destination, and then to the destination itself—providing only the information that’s required at each point of decision. A second round of paper signage mockups covered existing signs, and many overhead signs were taken down to test the theory that these weren’t being used. At the first major intersection, a structural pillar was covered with cladding and painted purple (the color of Area A), creating a landmark easily referenced from the main lobby information desk.

Kaizen observations included:
Giving directions to the new purple pillar was the most effective improvement tested.
Directing to the area first (with fewer signs along the way) and more detailed information about what’s found in each area simplified the signage and was favorably received.
As long as visitors were directed to an area and told to look for the floor graphics, patients had an easier time finding their way and staff was better able to give directions.
Visitors provided positive comments regarding the color, improved contrast, and simplified information on the redesigned signs.
No one reported missing the overhead signs.
Participants suggested the addition of landmark elements at visitor elevator cores, since these are not readily visible from some hallways.
A new printed map included exterior features, such as surrounding streets, to aid in orientation and was positively received.
Because one of the major failings of MMC’s 2006 effort was the lack of coordinated employee education, a number of staff education tools were provided, including a presentation to managers, a single-page guide created for staff and volunteers to use as reference, badges that condense the logic of the program on employees’ two-sided name tag, an internal employee newsletter article outlining the changes, and an online education portal.

For the public, MMC’s website was updated with the new maps and directional information, the new logic and graphics were applied to pre-visit appointment letters and verbal scripting for scheduling, and map handouts were redesigned.

The team designed large-scale mural graphics using the original color scheme for each area/elevator and imagery to match. For example, the “B” visitor elevators would have blue murals with boating imagery covering the walls at each elevator core.

The temporary signs were replaced with updated permanent signage, including final design feedback from the Kaizen. Colored to match the area where they’re located, these signs now include listings of destinations in that area and direct to other areas and super destinations. The entire ground floor was updated, and implementation continues on upper floors of the medical center. Most of the overhead signs have been removed, and a solution for embedding permanent floor graphics has been tested. A full installation is planned for fall.

A final printed map was issued to all staff and volunteers. In addition, corporate communications built a series of smaller maps directing to high-traffic destinations, both for print and online applications, including the staff Intranet and the public website. Finally, updated ground-floor map signs have been located in the hallways where appropriate.

At the conclusion of the third Kaizen and the rollout of updated wayfinding signage, frequent ground floor “sweeps” were conducted by MMC administrators. Using observation and conversations with staff and visitors, any questions or changes are reported to the wayfinding steering committee for review and response. The response to the changes has been overwhelmingly positive, especially from visitors.

Now that the program has been implemented on the ground floor and continues on upper floors, front-line staff—including the information desk, volunteers, and greeters—report that giving directions is much easier. Visitor complaints about wayfinding have been significantly reduced (but not solved), because staff understand and can quickly communicate the new wayfinding logic.

The program tested and proved basic wayfinding principles, including the fact that staff education is a critical component of the design. Using inexpensive testing tools, volunteers, and internal resources to build the new wayfinding system, MMC was able to simplify its built environment and change its caregiving culture.”

What your hospital is paying without wayfinding

After doing some investigating this week, I was able to compile a list of interesting statistics related to hospital wayfinding, mobile use, and the cost a hospital can actually spend when not providing efficient wayfinding. In an earlier post, I discuss the challenges of hospital wayfinding and reference articles released backing up the frustrations of hospital wayfinding, also why static wayfinding is ineffective. Static wayfinding as a solution to navigation is in most cases, as expensive to implement as digital wayfinding (or more so) and much less efficient.

Below, we will take a look at statistics that reflect how much it costs to “get lost” in a hospital.

The median salary for a hospital staff member is $75,000 per year, with most working 60 hours per week (just an average…).

Lets say that three times a day staff are stopped and asked for directions in the hospital by a patient, visitor, or even other staff member in some cases. (I can back this up, I worked in a hospital and still got lost 6 months into my employment there).

And to assume that this would only occur three times a day is being very, very generous.

Now we will guess that it takes 3 minutes to give these directions, for a total of 9 minutes spent per day.

Lastly, assuming that there are 200 staff members per hospital….

($75,000 staff salary divided by 60 Hour work week x 3 Times staff are stopped for directions x 3 minutes spent giving directions x 200 staff members per hospital = $225 dollars per day or $81,900 each year.

Amazing when put into that perspective. Almost 100 thousand dollars spent on assisting lost patients and visitors.

Looking at the cost to implement a typical interactive wayfinding system for mobile devices, (which is less than 20,000 at the highest and available now at $2500) it should be a no brainer. Invest less than three thousand dollars and save your hospital almost one hundred thousand every year.

Smart phone wayfinding (mobile wayfinding) is simple, effective and inexpensive. Patients can either access your mobile wayfinding web site, or download your hospital wayfinding app. This will give them access to turn by turn line and text directions, and department and doctor directory, emergency alerts, pictures, and more. If you choose to offer kiosk wayfinding as well, QR codes can be generated at the kiosk so a user can scan and take that set of directions with them en route.

All of the apps are 508 compliant and meet ADA standards.

Interactive Wayfinding Project Outline

I want to dedicate today’s post to my thoughts on what should be considered when starting an interactive wayfinding project.

In previous posts, I have mentioned the phases of development, the quoting process, features to include and interface examples.

I will list everything out in one place, as a rough guide as to what goes into starting a project. This will include the following:

a. Needs Assessment – What will best suit your campus and how to determine

b. Quoting Process – What items are considered when reaching a quote

c. Features – Which features you should include for your unique app, stylizing, interfaces, and format

d. Development – What to expect from the development schedule, what will be requested of you to complete the project

e. Time frame for delivery – The estimated time for each process, setting integration dates, whether development phases will be implemented and what to expect from that structure

f. Release and on going support – What will occur during the release, and how on going service and support will serve you

Needs Assessment:

When considering what will best serve your wayfinding needs, you must look at the visitors that you are catering to. When doing a needs assessment, I would ask the following questions.

1. Do you need to offer handicapped accessible directions? 508 Compliance?

2. Do you need to offer advertising?

3. Should this be for Web, kiosk or mobile?

4. Should there be multiple languages?

5. Should you include a directory?

6. Should there be an emergency alert system?

7. Should you include additional features such as an events calendar / search function?

There are many features to consider for implementation. For example, a hospital would want to include a department directory and alert system. The needs of each project are unique.

Quoting Process

The itemized segments that affect cost, and what we consider when giving an estimate.

1. How many buildings?

2. How many floors?

3. How many languages?

4. For web, kiosk or mobile?

5. Where will project be hosted?

6. Will there be additional features?

Project Features / Additional Functions

The default features of an interactive wayfinding project are line directions, text directions, search function and department listing. Other items that you may want to integrate include:

1. QR code generator for mobile web projects

2. Images of destinations to include with directions

3. Distance in feet for each line of text directions (EX:”In 10 feet, turn left”)

4. Emergency alerts

5. Handicapped accessible directions

6. Digital Signage

7. Advertising

8. Searchable directory


These items highlight what the development schedule will look like and what you will be asked to submit throughout this process.

The development phase is the biggest and most time consuming part of any wayfinding project. Typically, the biggest hitch in keeping to a predefined and agreed upon time line is waiting on approval of designs and delivery of floor plans from the client.

Development Schedule / What will be needed from client

1. A conference is scheduled to discuss interface designs, map designs, stylizing, fonts, and colors.

2. Client is to submit all floor plans relevant to project

3. Interface design and development begins, company submits samples for approval

4. Map design begins, company submits samples for approval

5. Project is completed and submitted to company’s quality end control team

6. Development / Design ends, company delivers end project for testing by client

7. Client is to request adjustments to design via change orders put in with the project manager

8. Any edits / adjustments are made as requested by client, end result is resubmitted to company’s quality end control team for testing

9. Quality end control is complete, end result is given to client for approval / final test

10. Project is released and made live

Time Frame for Delivery 

The delivery date and estimated time for programming is all dependent on the type of project and the speed of the client’s cooperation and assistance with interface approval and floor plan submission. Each project is unique, as all are custom built to suit and every location is different. To give an idea of time frame, I will lay out an example project and quote the time needed.

Example Project:

1 Building, 4 floors, built for kiosk with department / staff directory.

a. All interface and map designs are communicated by client and project begins.

b. Interface is built by company, and during this time client delivers floor plans. (2 weeks)

c. Map design and plotting is completed. (2 weeks)

d. Designs are submitted to client for approval. (Best case scenario of speed on clients end, 1 week)

e. Client submits adjustments to be made, company makes edits (1 week)

f. Design and programming of department and staff directory begins, client is to deliver listing of all staff and departments (2 weeks)

g. Project is submitted to company’s quality end control team and tested (1 week)

h. Project is submitted from quality end control to client for testing (1 week)

i. Assuming client does not wish to make any edits through change order, project goes live

End total of time line: 10 weeks. All actual design and development only takes 6 weeks. the other 4 weeks are reliant on client’s delivery of items and approval of designs / testing. That time frame is assuming the client does all quickly.

Release and On Going Support

Upon release of project, the company will begin monitoring the usage of the app, error reports and any static units (kiosk) running the app. This will last for a default time of 6 weeks, or longer depending on the content and frequency of error reports.

After the initial release monitoring is complete, the client will have access to 24 hour support and maintenance to ensure that the app is always available to the users.

Wayfinding Pro Software Development Video

The video below explains what Wayfinding Pro is, how to sign up and how it works. I would recommend this video to anyone interested in pursuing a wayfinding project.

Wayfinding Pro White Paper: Building your own wayfinding app


Building your own Wayfinding System:

How Wayfinding Pro enables subscribers to design interactive wayfinding systems for web, kiosk and mobile

The Benefits of Interactive Wayfinding

Implementing a wayfinding system has many benefits in addition to assisting visitors with navigation.  Interactive wayfinding systems not only provide building to building and department to department directions, but also a multitude of extended features. The wayfinding app is capable of providing an alert system and alternate directions in the event of an emergency. Staff directories and event calendars are also available for integration. The software is ADA compliant and can provide directions specifically for the handicapped. Integrating the QR code generator enables users to access the mobile app and view directions on the go.

Interactive wayfinding has been proven more effective than static signage. While signage can be a somewhat useful tool in wayfinding, it typically leaves visitors still confused and seeking staff assistance. Static signage typically requires an investment that is more than double what interactive wayfinding costs.

Building a wayfinding app with Wayfinding Pro

WFP is a software development tool that enables subscribers to build and design their own interactive wayfinding apps. With Wayfinding Pro, users are able to select an interface layout from a series of options and upload their maps and floor plans for plotting. WFP makes designing a web, kiosk or mobile wayfinding program simple. Line directions are applied to maps using the software development kit, which are then accompanied by auto generated text directions. Wayfinding Pro is the perfect tool not only for web programmers and developers, but everyone else too!

Why should I use Wayfinding Pro to build my app?

Interactive Wayfinding takes traditional wayfinding a step further and provides visitors with access to maps, step by step directions and directories. Wayfinding Pro gives its subscribers the ability to easily develop their wayfinding projects for a fraction of what typical wayfinding development costs. WFP was developed to serve the needs of normal, every day people. Those that may not have a programming back ground or thousands to invest in wayfinding software.

How do I get started with Wayfinding Pro?

Using WFP is easy, and getting started is a snap. Wayfinding Pro can be tested at no cost, and accessed online at www.wayfindingpro.com. By selecting the ‘Register’ tab and filling out the required information, you may download and run the trial of the software development kit to make sure WFP is a fit for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need programming skills to use Wayfinding Pro?

A: Programming skills are not needed to use WFP. Our software Development Kit was designed to be used by anyone.

Q: How much does it cost to subscribe to Wayfinding Pro?

A: The cost depends on the account type, and number of maps / projects. WFP is very cost effective, and was created so that any size organization can afford to have interactive wayfinding.

Q: Can I use Wayfinding Pro to design a mobile phone app?

A: Yes. WFP can be used to design a wayfinding program for websites, kiosks and mobile phones. The program can generate QR codes as well for use with mobile phones.

Q: Does Wayfinding Pro provide help with the mapping / design of my project?

A: In addition to normal technical support, you can sub contract WFP’s experts to design and map your project for you.

Im ready to start my Wayfinding Project! What next?

When you are ready to begin, you may reach out to me at any time for assistance. Not only am I a Wayfinding Pro expert, but I am also very well versed in the process of wayfinding and development. I am happy to provide my expertise, and to guide you through the sign up process. You may run a trial, or begin development today!


Amanda L. Smith
Sr. Project Manager

Wayfinding Pro



Find me on Twitter and Linked In!

T: @Alynnesmith1987

L: www.linkedin.com/in/alynnesmith/en

Visit my WordPress site for everything you need to know about wayfinding: