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Friday, 29 August 2014

Wayfinding: Where behavioural psychology mixes with business

Have you ever had that experience where you arrive at a new airport and walk out of the jetway only to follow the streamline of people flowing from the gateway towards baggage claim as if they have all done it and been there a million times? Well turns out, airport architects, construction personnel, behavioural psychologists, business managers, and marketing directors have all put their brains together to find a way to make sure you know which way to go no matter which airport you arrive at and despite how many times you've been there. This technique is called “wayfinding” and has been developed to create subtle cues which direct us to the places they know we’ll need to go.

(Source: https://www.segd.org/sites/default/files/styles/galleryformatter_slide/public/5559dp61_check-in.jpg?itok=GFILi8SL)

Pictured above is the new international terminal, terminal F, at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL). Here it appears that colour has been used to highlight and reflect traffic flow from the left side to the right side to direct passengers towards security check points after check-in. Light can also be used to emulate a calmer mood throughout the check-in or bag-drop process.

More recently, wayfinding has been finding its way on to our cell phones to make for easier directions and more comprehensible traveling experiences. Subtle cues in signs or on floors already help direct traffic flow, but being able to project three dimensional directions to your phone can one day help improve wayfinding significantly. Companies in Australia already implementing these techniques include Westfield for example. You can test out their wayfinding developments by using directories throughout their shopping centres.

(Source: http://www.harrisondesign.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/concierge-kiosk.jpg)

So, no matter where you are, or if you get lost, be it in the airport or shopping centre, which now-a-days are one of the same, you can always look for the signs that show you where to go unless one of the digital kiosks are available or you have the application on your mobile device. Also know that in order to get you where you need to go, business personnel thought very long and hard about the best way to plan their airports, shopping centres, even roads, all for your convenience.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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