Using University Wayfinding to Create an Inclusive Campus Environment

January 08, 2024

Universities & Colleges

Getting lost on a large campus is stressful, whether you’re a new student, staff member, guest lecturer, or maintenance worker.

Traditionally, physical signage has helped freshmen integrate into the campus ecosystem and save time when orienting with facilities and public spaces. In more recent times, adopting a university wayfinding software solution has become an affordable and effective way for these institutions to ensure students, staff and guests feel safe and comfortable on campus. In fact, campus wayfinding technologies are becoming increasingly common, whether for navigating, booking spaces, or monitoring occupancy. 

The best approach integrates both wayfinding approaches. We will outline some of the solutions and best practices for both physical and technology-focused tools.

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What is University Wayfinding?

If you understand the importance of Margaret Calvert’s UK road signs you’ll understand that design does more than solve human problems, it makes life more pleasant. Indoor navigation also embraces this philosophy.

At first glance, campuses feel like uncharted territory for first-time visitors. Effective university wayfinding signage can help ease the way. Wayfinding strategies that incorporate psychology and user-friendly aspects will therefore help people adapt to new environments.

University Wayfinding – a Versatile Solution

Many indoor navigation apps now retrieve wayfinding data from QR codes. Users only need to locate the codes on-premises and scan them with their phones. If faculty members want to book nearby vacant rooms for collaboration, the university wayfinding app will pinpoint rooms on indoor maps as well as their current occupancy status. This makes pre-booking easier and less stressful. 

In addition, facility managers can employ heat map features to allocate renovation funds or maximize space utilization by digital wayfinding for colleges and universities by analyzing usage patterns of campus areas. Decisions do not have to be difficult with comprehensive real-time insights.   

In fact, even contract workers visiting for site maintenance will appreciate wayfinding signage because they can reach sections of the map without detours and update work status to notify people who are unable to access the area. 

In addition to all of the advantages of university wayfinding, you can gain access to additional services by integrating the app with APIs. There are endless possibilities to consider, ranging from programming notifications to automating errands.  

How to Improve Wayfinding on a University Campus? 

how to improve wayfinding on a university campus

Today, the majority of campuses have university signage wayfinding to guide visitors through complex pathways in unfamiliar terrain. Some use strategically placed digital signage, while others raise the bar by recommending apps that show turn-by-turn instructions.

The goal of any wayfinding strategy is to simply eliminate the crossroads experience. You only need to remember five tips for this:  

1. Interview Users to Uncover Pain Points

People on campuses have different priorities, where some intersect while others don’t. Focusing on a specific journey alone is insufficient. Begin with interviews to better under indoor wayfinding priorities. It helps you know how people use campus and their woes with existing options. This is the first step in determining where campus signage will be most useful and what budget solutions are best. 

2. Be Inclusive While Evaluating Personas

Create multiple personas based on user interviews and visualize wayfinding journeys for each. Users should not be left guessing at decision points. Working with personas sheds light on complex navigational issues that differently-abled, visually impaired, and language-impaired people face.

When wayfinding is implemented, occasional visitors such as maintenance contractors and parents will not feel excluded from regulars who will benefit from it. It is critical to consider the needs of each persona when determining how to improve navigation and positioning experiences for all.

3. Simplify Instructions

Keep instructions simple and brief. To convey directions, always use short phrases and pictograms. People will tend to forget the cue around the next corner if they stop to read the signage. 

4. Decide the Placement to Maximize Visibility

Display wayfinding signs prominently so people can benefit from them during critical decision-making moments of their navigational experience. Erecting pillars and wall signs has always been a popular choice, but smartphones and AI technology are taking things up a notch.

5. Consult Wayfinding Experts for Complex Jobs 

If you’re unsure about your budget or the special needs of those with accessibility issues, it’s time to consult experts such as Mapsted. Mapsted’s innovative navigation technology solutions offer an inclusive campus wayfinding strategy developed through research, as well as years of professional expertise. That puts you in a vantage point with a bird’s eye view of your campus traffic and how to tackle specific issues, thanks to Mapsted’s wayfinding solution.

Wayfinding Design for Universities 

wayfinding design for universities 

To help people find their way, wayfinding design incorporates symbols, color, and typography. Using wayfinding design in built environments, people can easily navigate to their destinations because visual cues help direct them. Undeniably, successful wayfinding is all about design. 

There are fun ways to excite people through wayfinding designs. We’ll go over three ways to wow people across the campus. 

1. Stair Wraps

If your campus has escalators or stairs, for example, now is the time to use the few minutes people spend using them to learn something new or receive directions to events.

2. Floor Signage

Nothing beats brightly-themed floor graphics to show off creativity while also leading people around the campus. Be sure to use large, legible lettering. Also, bright decals create a well-marked safety perimeter for users, which reduces anxiety on campus. 

3. Map Signs

You’ve probably seen the loud “You’re Here” maps in malls and other public places that show not only where you are but also where points of interest are. Given the complex nature of the London Underground, commuters still quickly adapt to map signs because they declutter information consumption. So by using the same design concept on campus, people will know where classrooms and facilities are and how to get there the quickest. Students will never complain about getting lost if landmark pins are clearly marked.  

Reimagining Campus Experience With Mapsted

Are you ready to make the intake season a breeze for your freshman students? Let us introduce you to Mapsted, a powerful location-based technology that seamlessly integrates with your student app to provide top-notch wayfinding, contextual notification and much more. We assure it’s going to take your campus apps to a whole new level of excitement!

With Mapsted’s powerful location engine powering campus app, freshman students can explore their new campus ecosystem with ease and confidence. No more getting lost in endless corridors or missing out on important points of interest.

This incredible technology also plays a crucial role during open house events, creating a more seamless and natural exploration of campus spaces.

Imagine parents and students wandering around the campus, discovering different areas at their own pace. With Mapsted’s scan and go feature, they can simply scan a QR code and instantly gain access to digital floor maps, blue dot navigation and other helpful information they may not have had beforehand. It’s like having a personal guide right in the palm of their hands!

Not only does Mapsted enhance the visitor experience, but it also eliminates the need for paper advertisements and saves a ton of hassle for both visitors and event organizers. So, let’s say goodbye to outdated paper materials and welcome the convenience and excitement of Mapsted.

Campus Wayfinding Strategies 

Certainly, the role of any university is to provide consistent and well-organized wayfinding signages so that visitors and regulars can easily orient themselves to the campus architecture. However, before implementing a framework of wayfinding, it is pivotal to first recognize what the wayfinding goals are. A campus wayfinding strategy requires a three-stage approach:

1. Awareness

Existing wayfinding conditions are examined to identify the strengths and weaknesses of campus signage. Then client visioning meetings lead to a design philosophy for typeface, color, and font size. Abstracts for primary signs are evaluated before identifying a uniform style. 

2. Consideration 

A family of signs must be developed from the chosen design. Then conduct on-field tests to ensure mockups comply with the client’s guidelines. Lastly, the placement criteria, as well as other goals, should be based on guidelines that formalize lexicons and wayfinding frameworks.

3. Implementation 

Conceptual costs and phasing plans should be established to optimize budgets. In addition, comprehensive fabrication specifications should be developed for each sign in the family of signs. Create and install signs according to client specifications.

Benefits of Wayfinding for Universities

Campus wayfinding addresses a variety of issues that students, faculty, and other campus guests face during their visits. We’ll go over each of the 6 benefits of wayfinding solutions on campus:

1. Traffic Regulation

With tighter social distancing norms, it’s in everyone’s best interest to avoid congested spaces. Campus wayfinding detects bottlenecks expediently and sends real-time updates to users. It also helps in directing people to alternate routes during peak hours.

2. Eases Point-to-Point Navigation

Because users don’t always know where they are or where they should be going, wayfinding eliminates nearly all limitations that hinder quick accessibility. Complex indoor layouts are distilled down to be usable on smartphones using indoor positioning technology. As a result, when users are pressed for time, they can look up information.

3. No More Late Arrivals or Disruptions

Nothing stresses students out more than being late for class or entering the wrong facility. Also, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find someone to explain the route during peak hours. Wayfinding eliminates all hassles by directing you to your destination.

4. Seamless Transition Into Other Activities

Students may have other commitments after classes, and wayfinding makes life easier. How? It traces the path to their next desired location so they don’t have to fret about getting to the next location because their route will be planned out for them.

5. The Strong Solution for Campus Emergencies

Because unexpected events can upset the campus’s educational pace, a strong solution is required to guide people to assembly points and emergency exits in an orderly manner. Wayfinding shines in these scenarios because it directs people efficiently in crisis scenarios.

6. Improves Spatial Context of Campus

From UPS shipments to family visits, wayfinding improves spatial awareness in first-time visitors. Even if the campus architecture appears to be identical, they can quickly become oriented.  

Digital Wayfinding for Colleges & Universities in the Future

digital wayfinding for colleges & universities

Mapsted challenges all preconceived notions about indoor navigation by utilizing campus wayfinding signage. Our technology is a paragon of user-led choice, with limitless options for customizing indoor mapping to meet the needs of clients. All campus users benefit from our ease of finding facilities and mapping user journeys. Whether it’s administrators, visiting professors, or new students, Mapsted technology will feel stunningly intuitive from the start, defeating all indoor navigation curveballs.

Make the right choice by choosing Mapsted – the best university wayfinding partner!

If you found this read helpful, also check out 5 Ways Technology Increases Student Engagement in Higher Education. Here, we explore how student and teachers can approach learning and teaching with technology. Or you can also watch our video that explains how to maximize efficiencies and ease the campus experience with location-based technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How do I join the wayfinding movement?

Ans. Mapsted’s tactical approach to one of the oldest problems encountered by university campus users has achieved a remarkable interest in wayfinding. You can contact us for assistance in implementing wayfinding technology at your location.

Q2. Are digital wayfinding technologies secretly storing user data?

Ans. Users should not be concerned because digital way signs only display directions to specific destinations when a QR code is scanned. The system does not invade users’ privacy or store personally identifiable information.

Q3. Are wayfinding solutions only useful to resident users?

Ans. The mission of wayfinding for all is to normalize the use of wayfinding apps to get from one location to another. The technology is aimed not only at students and teachers but also at anyone from package delivery agents to visitors.

Q4. Can wayfinding apps only provide directional information?

Ans. No, switching from physical to digital wayfinding grants you access to an API that integrates with a variety of productivity services, including classroom management and facility booking. Everything is under one roof.

Q5. How has wayfinding helped in post-pandemic?

Ans. When a user is too close to another user, the system can send a proximity alert. It detects the presence of a crowd and notifies the administrator when a crowd formation pattern is detected. It facilitates crowd control by redirecting foot traffic.

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