Related Articles


Electric UTVs: A Buyer's Guide for Universities - Universities around North America are using electric...


Sustainable Hydration Options: Two Campus Experiences - College is a place to learn, a place to receive an...


Promoting Campus Safety and Sustainability through Solar Lighting - The typical sustainable campus solutions like low-carbon...


Installing Synthetic Turf - The quality of synthetic turf has improved dramatically...


Salem College Blends New Design with Historic Island of Architecture - If Elizabeth Oesterlein were to walk up to Salem College in...


Permeable Clay Pavers Solve Stormwater Issues, While Preserving Historic Character of College Campuses - No matter what your status is at a private college, from a...


Grooming & Maintaining Synthetic Fields: Strategies and Tactics - With the increasing installation and use of synthetic...


Campus Paving Projects - For anyone who makes purchases for colleges in these times...


Protecting Your University's Curb Appeal This Winter - We all know that you should not judge a book by its cover,...


Find the Best Digital Signage Solution for Your Campus - It's no longer a question of if your campus needs to go...


Windows and Doors Deliver Reliable Performance, Lasting Impressions - Universities across the nation are seeking ever-larger...


What Role Do Signs Play on Your Campus, and What Role Should They Play? - When most of us think of signs, whether in a campus setting...


Coordinating Exterior Aesthetics with Campus Architecture - Safety and aesthetic design confirms the campus demand for...


Mower Options Improve Looks While Increasing Productivity - Different Rolling hills, grand buildings, lush grass and...


Sustainability at Furman University: The Repurposed Shi Center - At Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, the...


Communications for Campus Security - As another school year approaches, security departments are...


Archives > April 2014 > The Evolution of Wayfinding: Static & Digital Signage

The Evolution of Wayfinding: Static & Digital Signage

In 1960, architect Kevin Lynch coined the term wayfinding to describe the tools and processes used to help people find their way. Today, wayfinding is typically addressed using technology, signage, and personnel to help communicate directions. A person's experience within an environment has a beginning and an end.

By: Rebecca Tyke

From design to manufacturing to installation, the purpose of signs is to move people to, through and out of a facility. An architectural signage system provides the sustainability and ease of maintenance needed for the ever-changing campus environment.

Wayfinding is dynamic and creates a positive environment for students, visitors and staff. Solutions include sign planning and design reinforcing identity; fabrication of a system of interior and exterior facility signage with static, changeable and digital messaging; professional installation and demolition to ensure the plan’s success; and maintenance programs for easy reordering and updating.

Successful communication through clear and orderly delivery of information is a critical aspect of your campus culture. In terms of function, wayfinding is simply about reaching your destination efficiently, but your visitors, staff, and students are also experiencing your campus landscape.

In a modern campus environment, wayfinding not only impacts the public safety of drivers, cyclists, and walkers, but it also affects the emotional reaction to your university, as your signs work to augment your campus ethos and affect perceptions of your unique campus environment.

Successful navigation is a result of a well-planned sign system. A system approach provides a collection of wayfinding interior and exterior signs to convey a university’s unique identity consistently. A planning team consisting of marketing for branding opportunities, interior design for aesthetic consistency, IT for technological synergies, and facilities for implementation and maintenance is beneficial when implementing a wayfinding solution. Working with a sign planner who specializes in wayfinding is paramount to creating the most functional, attractive, cost-effective and code-compliant signage installation possible.

Although signs do not yet hold a specific place within the widely recognized LEED rating system, incorporating modular signs in a facility is a key factor in sustainable design. A sign system is modular and changeable; not only does this extend the life cycle of signage, but the components can easily be separated at the end of usage for reuse and recycling.

While we live in a digital age, static wayfinding is still both useful and popular on private university campuses. Rather than assuming one form of signage would replace the other, we recognize that integrated solutions of both forms of media, drawing on the strengths of each respective form of communication, may be the answer.

Wayfinding systems have evolved over the years and continue to evolve. Today’s signage systems often allow simple replacement of the graphic insert to avoid the wasted time and money of replacing the entire sign. However, for areas where change is constant, digital signage is a great enhancement to an architectural signage system and wayfinding program.

Digital signage is a dynamic communication tool for wayfinding, informing, identifying, educating, recognizing, promoting and advertising. Digital messaging should be incorporated as an enhancement to non-digital signage throughout a facility. Together they orchestrate moving people effectively within a building or campus, which greatly impacts efficiency and instills a sense of well-being in people, while enhancing their experience along with their impression of your university.

Digital signage includes directories, bulletin boards, window displays and client flow management. Messages can be static, scrolling or interactive. Wayfinding directories provide navigation for students, staff and visitors, ensuring that people find their destinations quickly.

Digital bulletin boards broadcast multiple messages efficiently and effectively, while digital window displays identify destinations and can be programmed with up-to-the-minute information. Smartphone applications and barcode readers can also provide maps and additional information. So, whether your message is wayfinding, informing or identifying, digital signage is a highly effective communication tool.

Wayfinding directories help people navigate a facility with the use of interactive or non-interactive digital signage. Touch screens instantly provide people with navigation and printed directions that support the facility signage. With search options available by building, department, room number or professor, everyone is more likely to find his or her destination quickly on a predetermined path. Non-interactive directories offer directory information and building maps.

Digital bulletin boards inform people by promoting messages, upcoming events and classes, and advertisements for retail establishments. They allow incorporation of scrolling text, Flash animations and video capabilities to make dynamic messages. This allows clear, concise communications on an unlimited canvas that eliminates cluttered walls. Additionally, you can use menu boards to showcase dining options or donor recognition. Adding digital bulletin boards to a network means instant system wide updates that save staff hours of time posting flyers throughout the facility.

Digital window displays provide destination signage. Seminar times, presentation names or messages can be easily changed from one central location by using content management software. When displays are not being used for meeting or room information, signs can display important announcements, motivational quotes or weather/news feeds.

Some of the latest technologies in campus wayfinding include smartphone applications that produce campus maps. Barcode readers are also a popular choice to provide additional information about destinations and allow users to download on-the-go digital content from permanent digital signage.

The sayings hold true: hardware is only as good as the software that powers it. Digital signage success is reliant on software that is user-friendly with capabilities for managing content and layout. Digital signage software should interface with a variety of scheduling programs in order to create a seamless system that updates event schedules automatically.

Creative message solutions with customized preloaded display templates can integrate with elements of the university’s identity, color scheme and architectural design elements to reinforce branding and make creating and scheduling digital content easy. Return on investment is measurable in the time and money saved by the ability to make changes and monitor the entire digital network from one centralized location.

Digital signage can also be used to incorporate an emergency preparedness plan. Preprogrammed messages, alerts and evacuation maps broadcast safety procedures or other life-saving information throughout an entire digital signage network. Digital signage works independently or directly with a building management system for an immediate response to emergencies. Using digital signage for emergency messaging is an excellent solution for a proactive approach to life-safety.

It is critical to choose a provider who will take responsibility for the entire digital signage network, providing professional installation services that guarantee the proper execution of a digital signage network. On-site management for final configuration and software installation is vital along with hands-on training. This installation component maximizes your investment, saves time and money, and eliminates frustration.

It is also important that ongoing support for continuing needs is part of the package, as it is essential for a successful installation. Turnkey providers take responsibility for the entire digital signage network, eliminating your need to diagnose hardware or software issues. Universities are open 24/7, and technical support for your digital signage should be too.

There are a bevy of popular uses for digital signage for a university campus. For instance, you might want to share general information about the university, live information—such as weather and news feeds—or even event listings and schedules. In the campus dining rooms, you may wish to showcase dining options. In Residence Halls, signs can be used for the purposes of room scheduling and identification.

Digital signage may also prove useful and popular for educational messaging or even advertisements for retail establishments on-campus or off-campus. They can be used to create a sense of community as well, whether that community building is about security—such as emergency messaging and internal communication tools—or for special recognition of donors, students, or staff. They are an invaluable tool, as well, for public and community relations.

Though the possibilities are nearly endless, some of the most popular locations for digital signage in university settings are building entrances, information and registration areas, libraries, student unions, and dormitory or residence hall lobbies. They can also frequently be found at elevator banks, in cafeterias and dining halls, as well as in staff and donor recognition areas.



About The Author
Rebecca Tyke

is the Marketing Director of 2/90 Sign Systems, an industry leader of architectural signage systems offering a turnkey solution for clients by providing interior, digital and exterior signage along with sign planning, installation and maintenance services. For more information, email Rebecca at or visit





PUPN Magazine is a trademark of Flaherty Media, LLC, copyright 2017. PUPN Magazine and all contents are properties of Flaherty Media, LLC.