5. Longevity: Wayfinding That Lasts

Person confused by signage
A guest contribution by Patrick Eley and Alan Stevenson.

Good wayfinding systems shouldn’t come with an expiration date.

Instead, they should be resilient to the test of time, adapting and readapting to withstand anything from the elements to wear and tear to changes in the building’s layout or visitor needs.

A wayfinding system does this in two ways:

First, FLEXIBILITY. Buildings change. Exhibitions come and go, spaces that were once meeting rooms could evolve into storage rooms and major events like a pandemic might require people to be directed through the space differently to before. All of this needs to be reflected in signage.

A flexible wayfinding system allows us to make the necessary changes to the system to make sure it stays current. It’s not economical to replace an entire sign every time the information needs an update, nor is it particularly sustainable.

There are several ways to avoid this — some, like digital signage, are extremely flexible but quite expensive to run, while other systems allow the user to update obsolete information using modular elements without needing to replace the entire sign.

The second way that wayfinding systems can stand the test of time is by being SUSTAINABLY considered and built. Sustainability can be a complicated area to navigate, and measuring the impact of a particular initiative is never quite as simple as might be hoped. For example, we might specify a material that can be easily recycled, but we have no control over whether it will actually happen.

That said, there are choices we can make that can have a considerable effect on the environmental footprint of a wayfinding system.


Contributed by Patrick Eley and Alan Stevenson from DNCO an introduction to Chapter 5 of their new book Straight Forward: How Wayfinding Works and Why Strategy Matters.

Order your copy here.