PAM: A guide to digital wayfinding

A guide to wayfinding in the Digital Age

Getting people off the couch and back into real-world environments is a very real challenge for owners. This guide will help you get started. 

To get people venturing out again after a long year of lockdowns, venue, hotel, and commercial district owners need to get better at connecting visitors to what they love. This is a very real challenge and what’s often overlooked is the power of wayfinding to connect people to what they love. A new breed of navigation platforms – including PAM – are helping to provide experiences that are competitive or even superior to home-bound alternatives.

Three common obstacles

Wayfinding has always been a challenge of scale. As environments grow in size and complexity, giving visitors the right information at the right time so they can navigate with ease becomes increasingly difficult. 

Annoyed customers spend less, so reducing frustration is also critical to commercial success.

Another challenge is helping people make the most of their valuable time. Increasingly, that value can be found at home. Precincts of all types – stadiums, convention centers, resorts, retail and corporate districts – need to meet consumer demand by increasing the quality of the experiences they offer.

These challenges are exacerbated by a third factor: COVID-19. Now that a global pandemic has entered the equation, visitors expect a touchless experience along with advisory information on how to stay safe – COVID-19 protocols, safe areas and social distancing markers. 

So, where to begin?

How to lead people to better experiences

In the digital age, wayfinding innovations are now doing an amazing job of helping people connect to places. When implementing a new wayfinding system, we recommend the following steps.

Step 1: Deliver simple and relevant information at the right time. 

Make sure physical signs are in the right place, with the right information. Physical identification and directional signs do a great job at critical decision points, but technology is a valuable asset. Visitors can use mobile apps like Google Maps from the moment they leave home, but for a complete wayfinding experience, they will need much more than that. It’s a good idea to engage wayfinding consultants and use an integrated navigation platform from the very beginning.

Step 2: Supplement physical signs with a mobile experience. 

With mobile navigation apps, visitors can start planning their journey while they’re still at home and continue accessing updates throughout their journey. Once they’ve arrived, Google Maps is of limited value as it doesn’t track indoor or privately owned spaces, which is why bespoke navigation apps are so important. Mobile apps must be in harmony with physical signs and other digital touchpoints at your destination, which is why choosing the right integrated navigation platform is essential. 

Step 3: Invest in digital wayfinding. 

Delivering a customer-centric wayfinding experience starts from the origin of each person’s journey – whether that’s at home, from the airport or via public transport. This is where technology begins to deliver where traditional signage can’t. Websites, digital screens, kiosks, totems, apps, QR codes and geo-location maps now work alongside traditional signage to deliver the best possible experiences and the most seamless journeys.

Step 4: Use digital directional signs to offer the best of both worlds. 

Digital directional signs reach pedestrians and drivers when they’re concentrating on what’s happening around them, but with the flexibility of digital. They can be quickly updated to show changed routes, special event locations or parking capacities.

To recap, in the digital age, wayfinding systems are made up of a complex web of physical and digital touchpoints. These touchpoints work together to connect people to much richer experiences. 

Of course, managing all of these touchpoints isn’t easy if you don’t have the right software in place. It’s important to choose an integrated platform that seamlessly integrates operational, environmental and experiential touchpoints across any environment.

Read the first part of our series on wayfinding in the digital age here. Don’t miss next week’s post, which contains a checklist for choosing integrated navigation software.

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