The image below is a sample of a complimentary app Here2There Software created for an exhibition floor at a digital signage expo. Gives directions to and from exhibitor booths.
Wayfinding can be defined as spatial problem solving. It is knowing where you are in a building or an environment, knowing where your desired location is, and knowing how to get there from your present location. Wayfinding encompasses all of the ways in which people orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place.
Even in this modern era of technology, the most popular means of wayfinding is static signage. Universities and hospitals are very public and high traffic environments but still reliant on floor lines, staff assistance and posted signs as the solution to traditional wayfinding.
The hindrance in upgrading to an interactive system used to be cost, with most projects exceeding the $25 k mark. The release of programs like Wayfinding Pro (www.wayfindingpro.com) has given subscribers the ability to build a complete wayfinding system for only dollars a month. Wayfinding apps can now be created on any budget for web, kiosk and mobile access to interactive navigation.
In addition to a more manageable price, digital wayfinding has evolved as well. What used to be line and text directions alone are now searchable directories, QR code generation and location based content, emergency alerting, advertising and content management integration.
Clients now have the power of choice and the advantage of low cost at their fingertips. Wayfinding can be offered by integrators like digital signage companies, as an additional product or integrated into their DS software. End users can purchase Wayfinding Pro, build their own system and offer navigation to their public. Distributors including companies like LGE and Lenovo, can combine wayfinding with their package offering and resale on a large scale. Wayfinding has become extremely versatile and is flexible enough to fit every corner of the market.
Prospective wayfinding candidates with a larger budget at their disposal such as hospitals and universities, can sub contract the design and development to experts like Here2There Wayfinding (www.here2theresoftware.com). H2T handles project management, development, design, integration and implementation at the direction of the client. Services like these put control in the clients hands while easing potential work load involved in designing a wayfinding project.
Interactive wayfinding is now viable and within reach for any organization seeking to offer or resell the system. Digital apps will replace static signage within the next 5 years, will you be ahead of the curve?
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.
Here2There was able to provide Temple University with complete building to building and department directions. Temple offers wayfinding to visitors and students by mobile, kiosk and web.
From Static Campus Signs to Interactive Wayfinding:
The Temple University application was designed to offer interactive wayfinding of the campus, buildings and departments to students and visitors. The university has wayfinding kiosks at various locations on campus, available to students and visitors. Directions are available to 60 buildings on site, and around 25 buildings with directions available to departments. Aside from building to building and department destinations, visitors and students can access directions to public transit such as bus stops and railway stations, users can also find student housing and parking lots.
While H2T offers many features that can be additionally integrated into wayfinding projects, a number of specific program functions were very important to meet the needs of a large public campus such as Temple. Small app features were included in the initial design of the program to make usability as convenient and effective as possible.
Wayfinding app features that turn the program into a convenient and efficient public tool, while keeping ahead of the technological curve:
Such features include: a search bar is available on the web version to provide quick link to departments, buildings, or any other area of interest. On the kiosk and website version, locations / destinations can be found alphabetically and categorically. Pictures of the destination buildings and text directions accompany the line directions. Floor plan maps are shown with the text directions when requesting directions inside a building to a department or room. Mouse over ability is included to show names of buildings. In addition to these features, there were a few functions that were very important to the Temple University team to be included in the wayfinding application.
508 Compliance addresses whether or not a software or technology meets the standards of accessibility for those that are disabled. This includes the program and the physical technology in which it is housed.
Additional Features: Providing ease of use for disabled visitors:
Meeting the needs of the handicapped, or those with disabilities is an important issue when offering a public service such as interactive wayfinding. To ensure that accessibility was offered through directions, the application was built with the option to display only directions accessible to users in wheel chairs. The program has been tested and approved as 508 compliant.
When using the web, kiosk, or mobile version, users can select a button labeled with the universal handicapped icon. This will select the routes to and from entrances and exits with ramps. The kiosks on campus are easily (physically) adjustable to reach the comfortable height of a user in a wheel chair. The application also provides ease of use to those with visual and auditory impairments. In order to accomplish this segment, the web, mobile and kiosk version can be converted from text to speech for those with visual impairment.
Providing wayfinding on smart phone and access by other mobile devices:
As technology advances, it has become a specification of the general public to be able to access their apps and information by phone and other mobile devices. Smart phones can be used as credit cards to make purchases and payments, they can connect you with your favorite videos and music, help you keep track of your day and put you in constant contact with all of your social media outlets. Providing mobile accessibility is a standard in this day and age of technology. With this project, Temple’s wayfinding application was made available directly through smart phone with full access to the wayfinding site by mobile. A QR code accompanies text directions on kiosk for link to directions and full mobile site by smart phone.
Development Aspects, Project Phases and Logistics:
Every wayfinding project is unique in appearance, development and function. The time frame of development from commencement through implementation largely depends on the size of the location / campus to be mapped, custom features and any additional languages if needed.
Upon the start of any project, blue prints of all buildings and floors are requested and the campus is surveyed. The Here2There graphics team designed maps of building floors and building to building (mapping out the campus) and built the interfaces for web, kiosk and mobile for Temple University. The time frame of the project also depends on the time in which the client sends blue prints / floor plans, and confirms design layouts.
When quoting a project, certain specs are considered in order to provide an accurate and exact estimate. To devise a view of the campus, we look at how many buildings are involved, how many floors per each building, and an estimation of the number of destinations. Then we look at which versions will be developed, kiosk, mobile or web. Multiple languages are also considered, English is always included.
Build your own wayfinding application with Here2There’s back office development tool. Plot maps, auto generate text directions, create multi-floor building projects:
Because Here2There offers a back office developer that enables clients to build their own wayfinding apps, the next segment of quoting we look at is who will design the maps, the user interface and do the map plotting. The option for server hosting with H2T or off site is also available and taken into consideration.
“Being a first time visitor to the University, the wayfinding kiosks helped me to find my destination tremendously. The campus is large and can be hard to navigate. Offering this service to visitors and students is highly helpful.”
– Quote taken from interview; parent of a Temple Student
The Benefits of Implementation and User Reactions:
Temple University’s project development was finished and wayfinding went live to their website and mobile app in the spring of 2011. In the months following kiosks were integrated on campus, completing the vision of the solution. The application can be accessed through the web at (temple.here2theresoftware.com).
User reactions have been positive to the new service and interest in the new technology is high. After completing any project, Here2There’s client affairs representatives monitor usage and assess satisfaction through a series of questionnaire, interviews, online tracking, and live tests.
Staying current with technology and meeting the needs of the public is very important for any organization. To start your wayfinding project, and have your needs analysis completed at no cost, call Amanda at 814 – 342 – 3120.