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Build Your Own Directories: Intro to Custom Directories

Nov 2, 2022

7 min read

By: Mandy Tang

This Build Your Own Directories blog series will walk developers through the process of creating a custom directory, building out popular features, and finally integrating the directory onto your device. In the first part of this series, we’ll start with what digital directories are, how Mappedin offers directories as pre-built and custom-built using a SDK, and different use cases and benefits of digital directories. Let’s dive in.

What are Digital Directories? 

Mappedin Digital Directories offer a convenient, frictionless way to get directions and showcase a venue’s digital content on a variety of different touch-screen signage. Directories provide our customers with an innovative custom directory experience that caters to visitors in a variety of spaces such as malls, city districts, outdoor-indoor venues, and much more! 

Pre-built Digital Directory vs SDK Digital Directory

Mappedin offers two unique directory experiences: a pre-built application with out-of-the-box features; or a SDK to create a custom solution for your venue. Mappedin’s pre-built digital directory application is built using our own Web SDK. The custom directory experience can leverage our web or react SDKs to best fit your operating system and hardware.  

Let’s compare features between the pre-built and SDK directory experience.  

SDK Requirements 

At Mappedin, we offer both a pre-built application and a SDK to create the digital directory experience. Here are some considerations when deciding which solution is the best for you. 

The first step is to understand the vision and goal of your application. If you find that your needs exceed the offerings of the Mappedin’s pre-built Digital Directory application, we recommend you consider a custom directory powered by Mappedin SDKs. Here’s what you will need;

1. Development Shop 

Those considering using our SDKs to build out a custom digital directory experience should consider that their application is built end-to-end by their own development resources. Mappedin provides many resources including a Developer Portal with an in-depth and robust library of supporting documentation, guides, examples, and playground to aid in your application development. Mappedin's Partner Program can also provide recommendations to our preferred partners. 

2. Content Management System 

Sync your organization’s data with Mappedin’s platform to keep your maps accurate and up to date. 

3. Display Hardware

Display hardware will vary for the custom solution you may want to develop. Mappedin pre-built solutions have defined display requirements for the user interface and are compatible with displays sized within a certain range. Customers can leverage Mappedin’s network of preferred hardware vendors to scope an appropriate display for their custom application. 

Use Cases 

Indoor Mapping and Wayfinding 

Indoor mapping and wayfinding go hand in hand when understanding how people orient themselves indoors. Indoor mapping speaks to the visualization of the map, whereas wayfinding refers to the systems people and technology leverage to understand the space and experience. 

Mappedin Digital Directories can be placed throughout your venue to allow visitors to search and visualize their path to their destination with simplified step-by-step instructions. Additionally, visitors can scan a QR code through the Mobile Pass feature to send directions to their smartphone and take them on the go.

Benefits of Using a Digital Directory for Indoor Mapping and Wayfinding

Attract and Increase Customer Engagement 

The more a customer engages with your brand, the more likely they are to connect with it. Interactive wayfinding allows users to pinpoint their exact location and navigate through unfamiliar spaces, which then helps familiarize themselves with the environment. It also encourages them to explore your establishment, allowing them to discover new places that they otherwise might have missed.

Depth of Information 

Digital directories are a great way to attract more customers through the depth of information they can provide. This single touchpoint can unlock business and product information, display wait times, make reservations, promote events and sales, and so much more. 

Convenience and Ease of Use  

One of the biggest advantages of having a digital wayfinding experience on a directory is how extremely convenient it is for users. Digital directories can be placed throughout your venue to empower your users to make inquiries about products and services and navigate to them. With the flexibility of Mappedin SDKs, venues can customize what and how users experience their digital directory. 

Digital Out of Home Advertising 

What is Digital Out of Home advertising? 

Digital Out of Home (DooH) advertising is any type of advertising on a digital screen in a public space. You’ve most likely seen this before, think of those giant screens at Times Square in New York City or a TV screen in a dentist’s waiting room. 

You can leverage DooH advertising to extend reach to your customers by displaying ads on idle directory screens or during user interactions. For advertisers, DooH ads are a great way to target customers when they are away from their personal devices, showcase their product or service that can be purchased at a nearby retailer, or just to generally build brand recognition and awareness. And for publishers, this can be a great way to garner additional revenue for their venue. Both parties can benefit from the reduced costs of managing and installing print ads, the ability to showcase more varied content, and deeper analytics than was typically available before.

Benefits of Advertising on Digital Directories

Increase Engagement and Brand Recognition 

Advertising can allow you to monetize your digital directory by targeting both engaged and disengaged customers. Those who are using the directory directly can have ads integrated in their experience when they are searching for a certain product or service. For example, imagine that you are searching on a digital directory for a coffee shop and an ad for a coffee machine is overlaid on the contact card. Alternatively, you can increase brand recognition by targeting disengaged users by having these promotional ads displayed on idle screens. 


Where digital directories shine is the flexibility to showcase engaging content like video, relevant content for visitors, the ability to schedule many different advertisements throughout the day, and use real-time data like weather to create truly dynamic campaigns. 

Custom Directory Example: Hudson Yards 

Hudson Yards is a 28-acre neighbourhood and private real-estate development on the West Side of Manhattan. The large scale venue had many goals in mind to provide for their wide range of visitors, choosing the pre-built application to start from and using the SDK to build their own custom directory was a simple choice. 

Responsive Web App: Fitting into their extensive website, Mappedin’s responsive wayfinding solution, Mappedin Web, provides users mapping and navigation on both desktop and mobile devices.

Digital Directories: As the project progressed, both the client and their agency decided that digital directories on the property would add to the digital experience available and allow them to better access data of the varied groups who were moving throughout their property. A package of Mappedin’s Web SDK and Intersection’s interactive display software fit perfectly into the structure and plan for Hudson Yards.

The Solution  

Intersection and Hudson Yards was able to achieve a holistic solution using Mappedin SDKs. Our flexible SDKs allowed for Intersection and Hudson Yards to have wayfinding at the core of the solution utilizing minimaps, transit maps, and enabling the blue dot experience for web app or mobile pass users. Along with basic functionality of our maps, Hudson Yards’ solution includes great customizations such as: 

  • Sleek Custom UI 

  • Ads and Digital Signage 

  • Mobile Pass 

  • Weather Forecast 

  • Transit Maps  

  • Retail Landing Pages 

  • Booking and Reservations for Attractions and Restaurants 

Read more about Hudson Yards here

Stay tuned for the upcoming parts of this series as we dive deeper into the process of creating a custom directory, and contact us to learn more.