What is a user-first approach in wayfinding?

What is a user-first approach in wayfinding? Find out the steps to develop a wayfinding system focused at the end-user.

What is a user-first approach in wayfinding?

What is wayfinding?

Wayfinding is a design profession that requires multidisciplinary skills ranging from psychology, the study of human behavior, research in the built environment to strategy and design.

To develop a wayfinding scheme we start by looking at the end-user needs and requirements at each stage of the user-journey. The goal of a wayfinding scheme is to create a network of information, by showing the right information at the right time focused around the end-user.

How to map the user needs and requirements?

In order to understand the user in relation to the built environment, path and surroundings. We need to gather information from the user. What needs and requirements does the user have and how does the journey path look like.

In order to map the user-journey we look at the following steps to gather information:

  • Define the end-user groups, e.g. visitor, student, tourist, patient, commuter, supplier, guest, etc.
  • Field research, study the behaviour of the user(s) and map out their movements and modes of transportation
  • Identify issues in wayfinding and define potential opportunities for improving the user-experience
  • Look for accessibility issues and survey users to get a full understanding of their needs and requirements
Define the end-user needs and requirements for wayfinding

Wayfinding strategy

The next step in the wayfinding approach is to define a information hierarchy. Show only what is needed and remove excessive information. Provide consistent information across all media and reveal options along the user-journey stages.

In this step the needs and requirements are put into the information hierarchy. To create a unique and seamless user journey experience by showing sorting the information in a logical order. This results in a comprehensive and bespoke wayfinding system where visitors can orientate, navigate and discover its surroundings.

Design for All concept

Accessibility is an important factor to consider this includes the following items to consider:

  • Respectful, the wayfinding should respect the diversity of users
  • Safe, it should be free of risks to all users
  • Functional, wayfinding should be able to orientate, navigate, identify and discover
  • Comprehensible, a integrated approach to wayfinding design
  • Appealing, emotional and socially acceptable
  • Sustainable, misuse of natural resources should be avoided

Key takeaways

By following these guidelines you will be able to map out the user needs and requirements. Focus the information at the end-user to create a unique and seamless experience.

  • Map the user journey and seek for issues and opportunities at every stage of the journey
  • Develop a wayfinding strategy focused at the end-user
  • Make use of the Design for All concept