Wayfinding design provides guidance and the means to help people feel at ease in their surroundings.
- David Gibson, The Wayfinding Handbook
Going to the hospital – as a patient, family member, or even just to visit someone – is almost always guaranteed to make you uneasy when it comes to finding your way to your destination. Hospitals are typically complex, multilevel facilities – often built over a span of decades, which means they may have multiple entrances, building styles, and floor levels.
How do you help people find their way in a hospital – or in any other place – or in YOUR place?
People throughout history have gravitated to town centers, market squares, and public places to buy and sell products. Houses of worship, once set apart as a literal sanctuary from the fray, now sit side by side with busy commercial centers, libraries, schools, restaurants, and residential complexes.
Over time, cities, spaces, complexes and buildings fill up with information, markers, and symbols. Sometimes the results are helpful, but the effect can also be ugly or chaotic, or both. The challenge is to enhance a space – public, commercial, or private – by finding order in chaos without destroying character.
Great wayfinding systems employ explicit signs and information as well as implicit symbols and landmarks that together communicate with accuracy and immediacy. Over the last thirty years, wayfinding design has matured to become an essential component of buildings and spaces, helping make sense of a sometimes overwhelming task: getting from here to there.
What do wayfinding clients need?
The examples below illustrate the range of design projects. The complexity of the project grows in direct proportion to the scale and challenges of the client’s property.
- Individual sign – a single landmark or feature sign
- Wayfinding for building complexes – exterior and interior signage for a group of buildings
- System signage – signage for multiple locations, branches, or franchises operated by one owner or manager, ranging from park systems to consumer banks
- Open space signage – exterior signage for individual parks, streets, or plazas; for trails and greenways; for urban downtowns
- Campus wayfinding – wayfinding system for a group of buildings operating together on one site
- Building signage – signage for an individual structure, exterior and/or interior
Successful wayfinding design depends on understanding three variables:
- The nature of the client organization
- The people with whom the organization communicates
- The type of environment in which the system is installed
Wayfinding in ChurchWorld
As a leader in ChurchWorld, you may be saying, “This is all well and good, but we’re not even meeting our budget or having enough volunteers to serve in our ministries, or …”
People will always need to know where they are, how to reach their destination, what is happening there, and how to exit.
Of all places, shouldn’t the church be clear about wayfinding?
Tomorrow: The Wayfinding Design Process
Information for this series comes primarily from The Wayfinding Handbook by David Gibson. It is an excellent resource for leaders who want to understand and apply the art and science of wayfinding to their organization.