What is Wayfinding?

Jan 26, 2016 | Interior Design Tools

Wayfinding is a visual and physical system that guides us through a space.

Navigating an unknown space creates stress and distances individuals from a sense of place.  The better an interior environment draws people to their desired destination, the more opportunity they will have to form a lasting positive connection with the space.  The best planned interiors utilize a variety of cues to intuitively move people throughout the environment.  Compression and expansion of space can help direct traffic flow and changes in illumination levels can draw the eye, and therefore the individual, to an area of interest.

Wayfinding interior design elements at Germanna Community College

These wayfinding design features subconsciously direct movement by channeling our natural tendencies.  Focal points and landmarks are more conscious wayfinding tools that help draw attention to important destinations, establish distance, or confirm our sense of location.  Finally, the most obvious, and sometimes the most poorly implemented, examples of wayfinding include banners, graphics, and directories.

Wayfinding signage and graphics present incredible opportunity if utilized well, but can be equally as damaging to Placemaking if implemented poorly.  Sometimes it’s not the lack of signage that makes a space hard to navigate, but rather having too much.


Positive outcomes for a successful wayfinding solution include:

  • Establishment of a clear path of travel to and from key destinations
  • Use of intuitive design features to create effortless and stress free movement
  • Identification of key landmarks and focal points to create spatial awareness
  • Utilization of accessible signage and drectory freatures, graphics, technology, and messaging