6 Steps for effective wayfinding

A street signpost with multiples signs going in several directions. They need 6 septs to effective wayfinding.
Image by Kim Broomhall from Pixabay

Wayfinding is more than just putting up a sign, but where signs are needed it’s time to call an experiential graphic designer. They have expertise in understanding human behaviour and perception. Knowledge of access codes is also part of their skill-set. The key point is to involve them at the beginning of a project for best effect. A SEDG blog post has 6 steps for effective wayfinding. 

6 Steps for Effective Wayfinding

Think about wayfinding long before the development site and architecture have taken shape. Experiential graphic designers are the go-to people at this point. The following steps are edited from the SEDG blog post. They outline the process for working with designers to integrate wayfinding into new or existing space. 

1. Kick off. A good designer will listen to the problems and challenges that a wayfinding systems needs to solve.

2. Strategize and plan. Designers think about how people move around and interact, anticipate needs and identify obstacles. They should also consider any regulations and restrictions to ensure designs are approved. 

3. Concept and design. A good designer will have skills in type, colour, form, materials, lighting and more and present a variety of designs. They consider sightlines, obstructions, language and culture, physical disabilities and visual impairments.  

4. Review and approve. This is the most important part of the process. A good designer packages the designs for approval and negotiates where necessary. 

5. Bid for pricing. Allow up to three weeks for this step so mistakes aren’t made leading to bigger issues. Proposals should include samples, colours, materials, shop drawings and permits.

6. Fabricate and install. Fabrication and installation takes eight to twelve weeks. A good designer will work with fabricators and installers to ensure design intent is followed, down to the last sign type and location.

Community Wayfinding

Jon Sanford’s chapter, Design fFront cover of the book Community Wayfinding: Pathways to Understanding.or All Users explains that despite its potential, universal design has not been widely adopted as a strategy in promoting community wayfinding. The book, Community Wayfinding: Pathways to Understanding is published by Springer Link and individual chapters can be purchased. Or go to the ResearchGate site and request free access to the full chapter. 

You can download the table of contents to see what else might be of interest.

From the abstract

In this chapter, the author describes not only what universal design is, but also what it is not: specialized designs to compensate for functional limitations.

Universal design, as articulated by a set of performance guidelines, describes how to promote usability and inclusivity—including community wayfinding—for everyone. The chapter addresses directions in research, policy, and practice necessary to promote universal design implementation.

 Award winning wayfinding design

Birds eye view of a wide pedestrian crossing with lots of people on itThere are three wayfinding design articles in this post. First, is public transport systems where good wayfinding is essential for reducing travel stress. Community wayfinding is essential for orientation, and hospitals are another situation where people experience wayfinding stress. And wayfinding is so much more than signage. 

Deborah Abidakun, won an RSA Student Design Award for her wayfinding system design. Being just below average height she found herself on tiptoe trying to understand 3D graphics. At night the lack of lighting made reading even more difficult. So Deborah started to wonder how others found these signs. This led her to carry out research around the existing pedestrian wayfinding system.

Deborah’s winning design was based on enhancing the Transport for London system. Find out more by going to the article – the illustration below has two more screens that help with the explanation. The title of the article is, Enabled by design: A way finding system that considers the disabled.

a prototype accessible wayfinding post and panel design. Award winning wayfinding design.

Hospital wayfinding

A boy sits on a chair and in front of him is a giant heart shaped apple sculpture with red hearts and other bright colours on it.Healthcare environments are under the design microscope with a growing body of evidence to show how design is linked to well-being. The design project manager for the Seattle Children’s Hospital is Integrating Art and Wayfinding. 

This short article outlines how the art planning team decided on the style of art. Patients, families, clinical and administrative staff. “Finding the right visual voice for patients whose ages range from infants to young adults, along with families and visitors is key” 


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