When designing a new wayfinding scheme a range of methodologies can be used to test and shape the outcome. But how can we assess the contribution to the performance of the business or destination as a whole? Here we explore different ways for evaluating the performance of wayfinding schemes.
Setting Objectives and Targets
As a first step we need to set targets and collect baseline data to act as the reference point. But what kind of indicators can we use to measure the effectiveness?
Studies have shown a link between getting lost with stress and dissatisfaction. Including wayfinding related questions within regular customer satisfaction polling is a good place to start. For example – how easy it is to find your way round or views on any wayfinding signage. Signs, provide a permanent platform for communicating brand so can be factored into any brand awareness research.
Operational Performance Measures
Although it might be challenging to set targets for a new building; for established ones there are likely to be a range of operational targets and monitoring processes already in place. With a little adjustment these existing routines can be used in evaluating the performance of wayfinding schemes:
- The number of wayfinding/navigation queries directed at staff. If staff are frequently asked the way to a particular location there is clearly an issue. Monitoring the fall in queries following an intervention will provide a very tangible measure of success.
- Lateness – e.g. hospital appointments or departure gates in airports. While there’s likely to be several non-wayfinding contributors, a carefully considered wayfinding solution could reduce the problem. Again with a direct and measurable operational impact.
- Productivity – while staff are busy responding to wayfinding queries or waiting for patients, they can’t get on with their day job. Responses that reduce these issues will translate into improved productivity.
- Distribution of footfall – shopping malls, visitor attractions, transport hubs etc. routinely monitor footfall, so will have data about cold and hot spots. There could be any number of reasons why traffic to a particular area is below expectations. Tweaks to the wayfinding will help to address these. Comparing before and after data, will provide a direct measure of effectiveness.
- Evacuation time – the wayfinding information could have a material impact on the time period to evacuate a building.
Importance of Ongoing Monitoring
Rather than considering wayfinding as a one off investment, it should be treated as a core service. A service that needs to evolve in line with changing needs. After all the context and environment of a place is unlikely to remain static. Setting targets and continuously monitoring performance will identify opportunities for improvement. Addressing these will feed into the overall improvement in the operational and commercial performance of the business.