When traveling to an unfamiliar location, what exactly do you do to prevent yourself from getting lost? If you’re like most people, you’ll probably open Google Maps on your phone or your computer’s browser, input your starting point and destination, and study the recommended routes to take.
But what about when you’re indoors – say, in a mall, hotel, or hospital? How do you go from point A to point B? Here, you have two options: Ask a stranger for directions or figure out your route by looking at the signage strategically posted indoors.
The second option is called wayfinding.
What is Wayfinding?
Wayfinding refers to the system that allows people to navigate a physical space while enhancing their experience of that location.
Wayfinding can be used both indoors and outdoors, including schools, urban centers, transportation facilities, and healthcare institutions. Among the tools that are often used in creating wayfinding systems are maps, symbols, directions, and digital signage.
What is critical for people to know, especially the administrators of healthcare facilities, is that wayfinding is not just about getting from point A to point B. Beyond that, wayfinding is an invaluable tool that can be used to enhance the patient experience.
In an institution like a hospital where visitors may be under duress, enhancing visitor experience is no small matter.
Combining Digital with Static
If you currently have static signage in place, is it necessary to replace these with digital signage? Not necessarily.
Although digital signage has several advantages over their static counterparts, it is not advisable to go fully digital.
For one, existing regulations in your area may still require you to put static signs all over your facilities. Replacing these with digital signs may cause you to violate these regulations.
Furthermore, replacing static signs with digital ones may be impractical, if not prohibitive, in terms of the costs involved. Simply put, some areas within the facilities may not require digital signs.
Why Go Digital?
Adding digital signage to your existing hospital directional signs offers a few key advantages. Digital signage is versatile and can be used for different applications beyond wayfinding.
Here’s a quick look at these applications:
- Providing Patients and Guests with Timely Information: Unlike its static counterpart, digital signage can provide guests with real-time updates. These updates can range from traffic reports to news reports.
- Booking and Scheduling: Digital signs can also be used to provide visitors with accurate and real-time updates about the availability of rooms in hospitals. This can be done by linking the digital signs with booking software.
- Entertainment and Engagement: Various types of content can be uploaded on digital signs, from advertisements to news. All of these can keep visitors engaged and minimize their perceived waiting times.
- Marketing: Digital signs are a great way to promote services and amenities a facility has to offer, like gift shops and exclusive deals.
- Branding and user Experience: As user experience improves, you can enhance the way customers perceive your brand.
Benefits of Digital Signage
Apart from being inherently attractive due to their use of graphics and sounds, digital signs offer a few significant advantages and benefits over static signs:
- Accessibility: Whether you are planning to use single signage for a kiosk or to strategically place a few around your facility, updating a digital sign can be done remotely via a computer connected to the Internet, making the task easy and convenient.
- Fewer Resources Required: Because updating digital signs can be done with a computer, you can forgo the use of resources like workforce and use these for more essential purposes.
- Analytics: Digital signs also have the capability to generate reports which can be used to improve the user experience further.
Adding Digital Signs to your Existing System
Before adding digital signage to your current wayfinding system, there are a few essential things that you have to do first.
Start by outlining your overall vision and goals for adding digital signs to your existing wayfinding system. This will allow you to better understand how integrating digital signs with your static signs can help you achieve your goals as well as enable you to make informed decisions. It is important to talk about this with your chosen wayfinding company.
Take into account the current challenges your facility is currently facing. For most hospitals, one of the most common problems they face is expansion. The addition of a new wing or the construction of a new building can leave the existing wayfinding system outdated. In other instances, you may have to find a way to inform current customers about new changes, like moving a department to a different location.
Once the digital signs have been installed, you can take advantage of analytics to make informed decisions. Reading the generated reports, you can evaluate locations in which guests may have a harder time reaching. Analytics can also help you recognize the need for additional digital signs.
The Best of Both Worlds
There’s no need to choose between static and digital signage. If creating a positive user experience is a top priority for your organization, you should utilize every tool available to you, including digital signs.
Zak Zakaria is a Waymaker at design technic 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.