Wayfinding Signage: The Basics

Wayfinding is described as the ability to navigate through an environment. It is often an overlooked or less thought out portion of construction in a building. It may, in fact, be one of the most important aspects of the completed facility. People need to know where to go once they are in the building and an effective wayfinding program is a way to solve that issue. In this post, we’ll be describing the basics of wayfinding programs.

Keys to a Wayfinding Program

Simplicity for the visitor

-Don’t make the visitors have to think where to go. The program should be clear, concise, and easy to understand.


-The entire program should be consistent. The typeface, colors, and design should remain the same to prevent any confusion from visitors.


-Showing a visitor where they currently are and where their destination is located is an effective way of orientating the visitor to the environment and simplifying their navigation. Maps are a commonly used to help with orientation. To simplify even further, make sure the maps are pointing in the direction you are facing.


-Directional signage is used to guide the visitor through the facility to their destination.

Types of Wayfinding Signage

Informational Signs

-Informational Signs help orient a visitor to the new environment. They provided vital information such as locations and instructions for certain areas of the facility.


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Directional Signs

-Directional Signs point you in the correct direction and guide you to your destination.




Identification Signs

-Identification Signs provide information about individual people or locations. They help visitors know when they have reached their destination. Room number and workstation signs are great examples of Identification Signs.


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Regulatory Signs

-Regulatory Signs display safety procedures and information for the environment. Fire Escape Routes, No-Smoking signs, as well as any Restroom and Stairs signs, are all examples of Regulatory Signs.


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Signage Design

The visual design of the signage is key to creating an effective wayfinding program. Signage typeface and color contrast between sign color and copy color are the two key factors when it comes to design.

Signage Typeface

-The typeface must be readable and clear. A sans-serif font is good to use for signage.

-A font with a large X-height and a variety of weight options is good to use.

Color Contrast

When it comes to the color contrast in a sign it’s all about the Light Reflectance Value, or the LRV. The LRV is what measures the amount of visible and usable light that reflects from a painted surface. In other words, it measures the amount of light a color reflects. This is important because these values help determine the contrast between two colors. In their 1992 book, Wayfinding: People, Signs, and Architecture, Paul Arthur and Romedi Passini described a simple way to calculate Color Contrast (CV%) using the LRV of two colors in a simple formula.




It is common practice that a CV of 70% and over is acceptable while a CV of less than 70% normally is not. As an example, let’s say Red has an LRV of 13 and Yellow has an LRV of 71. Should these colors be used together?




Yes, these two colors can be used together because they have an acceptable Contrast Value. Now let’s say we have a Blue with an LRV of 15 and a Brown with an LRV of 14.




These colors should not be used together because the Contrast Value does visually work.


An effective wayfinding plan is crucial to the success of a facility and will aid in visitor happiness. However, it’s not always easy to put together an effective plan especially if you’re not familiar with signage. Let us take care of that for you. Our Concierge Service will build a plan for you and assist in getting your facility as accessible as possible. Contact us and we’ll help you get started!

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