Many complex facilities focus their efforts to improve wayfinding on the “real world” — physical signs to guide people in and around the environment. But even the most wayfinding-savvy organizations often do not extend their reach into the “digital world,” where many of their visitors start their journey.
Here are ten ways to deliver better wayfinding information online:
1. Provide an easy way for visitors to your web site to generate customized direction sets to or from your facility. Whether you offer an offsite link to a mapping web site like Google or Yahoo, or you invest the resources to create a customized tool on your own site, it is very helpful to visitors to be able to print accurate driving directions from their home to your campus.
2. Review the main mapping sites and confirm that they are providing accurate directions to your location. Google, Mapquest and Yahoo rely on third-party providers of street information and sometimes they can contain errors, such as incorrect street names or traffic flows. Each site offers ways to alert their providers about mistakes. Test getting directions to your address from different parts of town.
3. Explain parking options on your web site. If you have multiple parking options, like lots or garages and valet parking, list them all on your site, along with hours of operations and fees. Help your visitors determine the most convenient parking option for their destination.
4. Convey information about public transit options and private offerings such as intra-campus shuttles. Link to public transportation trip-planning sites, if available in your area.
5. Offer a version of your web site optimized for mobile browsing. With browser recognition, your web site can be optimized to deliver a mobile-friendly version for cell phone users. As we’ve said in a previous post, everyone now carries their own personal wayfinding device — the cell phone. Confirm that your visitors can find relevant information on their phones as they approach your facility or at your facility.
6. List all your street addresses on a single line, such as “500 Chicon, Austin TX 78702″ so that they can be easily pasted into a mapping application.
7. Alert your visitors about street closures and construction that may impede their journey to your facility. Alerts should be prominently placed on your web site and updated regularly.
8. For complex facilities and campuses, provide walking directions from parking to the visitor’s destination. Often the most frustrating part of a journey to a new facility is finding your way from parking into the right building and up the right elevator.
9. Offer information on popular amenities in the wayfinding section of your web site. Where can a visitor find food, a taxi stand or an ATM?
10. Maintain and update your wayfinding information on a regular schedule. Outdated information is worse than useless — it will negatively impact your visitors’ experience.