GPS-enabled smartphones and vehicles have changed the way we navigate the roads. Think about it—when is the last time you sought out a paper map for directions? As we continue to build a technology-driven world, the way we get around inside buildings is changing, too. Static directories in malls, airports, and other high-traffic facilities are becoming a thing of the past as a growing number of industries embrace digital wayfinding—a time-saving, customer-service-focused solution for navigating large buildings and campuses.
So what exactly is digital wayfinding? Basically, it’s all about setting guest expectations and getting people from where they are to where they want to go with the least amount of confusion and/or frustration.
Digital Wayfinding Makes it Easy to Navigate Any Facility
The dictionary defines wayfinding as “the process or activity of asserting one’s position and planning and following a route.” Digital wayfinding helps you do all of that efficiently in minutes or even seconds. The digital part is normally a kiosk—or several kiosks—equipped with custom software. These kiosks provide visual maps that guide retail customers, hospital patients, airline passengers, and other users to their destinations with step-by-step directions.
Here’s how it works, in a nutshell:
1. A person needs help finding his or her destination. He/she might be in a large shopping mall, health care center, airport, or resort. He/she approaches a kiosk for assistance.
2. The user can pull up a map on the screen and select a destination, or search for a destination with the software’s search function.
3. The screen displays the user’s starting point and end point, and provides step-by-step instructions to the destination. (The software is geo-spatially aware, so each kiosk’s starting point is different).
As you can see, digital wayfinding is a simple concept. However, designing the software is a complex process. It’s important that the people creating the wayfinding software work closely with their clients in order to provide custom solutions that people actually want to use. Let’s talk more about what makes a great wayfinding solution…
Characteristics of a Great Digital Wayfinding Solution
● Great UX/UI - When a person approaches a digital wayfinding kiosk, it’s important that the user does not feel confused or overwhelmed by the user interface. Wayfinding kiosks are meant to help eliminate the confusion and frustration associated with navigating a large space, so the design should be simple yet attractive. Using the kiosk should feel intuitive.
● Dynamic Mapping - A great wayfinding solution must have dynamic mapping options. Once a user has selected his/her destination, he/she will want to view the route. But the user also might appreciate the ability to pan, zoom, and rotate the map to get acquainted with the property. Most importantly, the user needs to know which way to take the first step. If the solution doesn’t make that clear and the user starts off in the wrong direction, that is a wayfinding failure.
● Intuitive Content Management System - Digital wayfinding kiosks often need to be updated. In malls, for example, new stores open and existing stores close, promotions change weekly or even daily, renovations change the floor plan, etc. The facility manager or staff members making these changes need intuitive content management systems that make their kiosks easy to update. Otherwise, the digital wayfinding solution will just become another source of stress for its operators.
● Advanced Analytics - Investors of digital wayfinding solutions want to know they made a good decision that will offer a return on investment. Part of determining the ROI requires knowing how people are using the digital wayfinding kiosks. Therefore, a great digital wayfinding solution has the ability to collect useful data and analytics, such as how long it takes for customers to fulfill their navigation needs. This information can be used to help evaluate the ROI, and it can also help the software engineers improve the solution over time.
There are several other features that can be added to a digital wayfinding solution to enhance guest experiences. If you had wayfinding kiosks in your facility, what functions would you like them to provide?
Express Image Digital is Redefining the Wayfinding Experience
Enhance your guest experience and boost your brand with Express Image Digital’s interactive wayfinding kiosks! We design and build custom systems with a focus on user experience design and intuitive interfaces. From software development to hardware procurement, we provide end-to-end solutions that offer a great ROI. Contact us today to get started on your solution!