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How do you find your way at work? Hopefully, there are signs to help you. Wayfinding encompasses all of the ways in which people orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place (


Principles for effective wayfinding include:

  • Create an identity at each location, different from all others. 
  • Use landmarks to provide orientation cues and memorable locations. 
  • Create well-structured paths. 
  • Create regions of differing visual character. 
  • Don't give the user too many choices in navigation. 
  • Use survey views (give navigators a vista or map). 
  • Provide signs at decision points to help wayfinding decisions. 
  • Use sight lines to show what's ahead.

There are established federal rules and regulations for wayfinding systems. (See infographic.) According to that infographic at Graphic Products, OSHA requires floor marking and emergency exits.


OSHA — 29 CFR 1910.37

OSHA maintains basic regulations for floor marking, which can be a critical component of a wayfinding system:

  • 29 CFR 1910.22(b)(2) states, "Permanent aisles and passageways shall be appropriately marked," but the standard sets no guideline for floor marking colors, unless floor marking is used for preventing physical injuries.
  • 29 CFR 1910.144—the agency's standard for outlining safety color codes—notes that red and yellow are designated safety color codes for marking physical hazards.
    • Red is the basic color for fire-related hazards, emergency switches, bars, and buttons on hazardous machines.
    • Yellow designates caution and marks physical hazards, such as stumbling, falling, and "caught in between."

OSHA — 20 CFR 1910.37
OSHA's rules for communicating egress routes in the event of an emergency can be found in 29 CFR 1910.37. Here's what to know when accounting for emergencies while designing a wayfinding system:

  • Every exit must be visible and marked by a sign reading "Exit," and the line-of-sight to an "Exit" sign must be visible at all times.
  • The word "Exit" must be legible in lettering at least 6'' (15.2 cm) high, and the main lines of the letters in the word "Exit" must be at least 3/4'' high.
  • If an exit path isn't apparent, signs must be posted along the route, indicating access to the nearest exit.
  • If a doorway or passage along an access route isn't an exit, but must be marked "Not an Exit" (or with a similar message). It may also be identified by its actual use (such as a closet or restroom).

What happened the last time you lost your way?

How could you have found your way if the business had followed the design principles listed above?

What is a good example of wayfinding? 

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