Tug Of War

Interactive Mapping: Solving for Wayfinding Vs. Marketing

When we talk to organizations that are looking at an interactive map solution and we dive deeper into their goals and problems they are attempting to solve, they almost always fit into one of two buckets. Organizations are looking at interactive mapping to solve for a wayfinding problem or a marketing need.

Wayfinding problems are all about how do I get from point A to point B. A school campus can be a large and challenging place to navigate, and visitors need help getting around it. Marketing needs almost always have recruitment as the top focus with all other audiences fitting in as secondary.

Both wayfinding and marketing are real and legitimate challenges. Unfortunately these unique challenges don’t have one simple way that is best to go about solving them.

Solving for Wayfinding

When we think about wayfinding we usually mean using technology like GPS to tell the location of something in relation to something else and how to get from one to the other. The single biggest challenge in solving for wayfinding is realizing that the likelihood of you building a better mousetrap than Google Maps is extremely unlikely and will be very expensive to do.

We specifically talk about Google Maps because it has built such a commanding lead in the online wayfinding space over competitors such as Yahoo, Bing, MapQuest, Apple and many others. It’s also a standard defacto type app that people install on their smartphones. As we reported a while back it is the #1 most installed mobile app.

You know the saying “if you can’t beat them, join them”? We believe for wayfinding Google Maps holds that crown. We’re not saying that Google Maps doesn’t have negatives associated with it, but it is extremely hard to build a business model to compete against something that is free. When people are focused on creating a wayfinding solution we recommend they take advantage of this free resource.

Solving for Marketing

We feel that campus marketing is our strength. By offering gorgeous map illustrations overlaid with content rich points of interest or stops, you can offer website visitors a rich and powerful experience. You can let visitors see pictures, watch videos, learn about what departments are in a building or read about the history of a specific location. All of this educational and informative content allows visitors to learn more about campus.

Through this type of educational marketing you allow website visitors, like prospective students, to make an informed decision on whether or not your school is the right one for them to attend. Choosing a college to attend is a huge financial decision and quite possibly the biggest decision in the prospective student’s life to that point. The more information they can collect the better educated decision they can make.

Of course the challenge with all this great content is collecting all this great content. When solving for wayfinding, this is all overkill and gets in the way of an individual who is simply looking to get from point A to point B.

 You Can’t Be Good At Everything

Unless you are Bo Jackson, then you simply can’t be great at everything. In the software world a constant challenge is attempting to make the best tool while also making it incredibly easy to use, powerful and intuitive to the end user. Steve Jobs is famous for having once said, “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” When we talk about solving for wayfinding AND marketing you run directly into this wall.

Wayfinding and marketing are two uniquely different challenges and attempting to cramp a solution for both into a single experience will most likely cause you to fail at solving either. This is something we have struggled with for a while, and because of it we have stayed away from trying to be a deep solution on the wayfinding front because we are more passionate about solving the marketing need.

What are you trying to solve for? If you’re really interested in campus marketing then maybe we can help. If so, please feel free to reach out and contact us.

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