Sign Language

A wayfinding system links different people together, even if they do not share a common language or destination, by guiding all of them through the same spaces with a single system of communication. The unifying language of a wayfinding system creates a public narrative of how people witness, read, and experience a space. Each sign in a system, each separate voice, serves a particular function and displays a specific kind of content called a message, which might include nonverbal graphic symbols, images, or words.

– David Gibson, The Wayfinding Handbook

Most wayfinding systems can be broken down into several categories of signs: identification, directional, orientation, and regulatory.

EXTERIOR

Identification – the building blocks of wayfinding

  • Site monument identification
  • Site entry identification
  • Building mounted identification
  • Entrance identification
  • Parking area identification
  • Accessible parking identification

Directional – the circulatory system of wayfinding

  • Off-site trailblazers
  • On-site vehicular directional signs
  • Pedestrian directional signs

Regulatory – describes the do’s and don’ts of a place

  • Parking regulations
  • Entrance information

INTERIOR

Identification

  • Store identification
  • Area/level identification
  • Public amenity identification
  • Service and maintenance identification
  • Office identification
  • Elevator and stair identification

Directional

  • Directional signs

Orientation – provides an overview of surroundings

  • Building directory
  • Elevator/floor directory

Regulatory

  • Fire egress maps
  • Life safety signs

The sign narrative is the voice of the building or place and its owner, revealing the pathways and destinations of the building or space, the rules that govern how to use it, and essential information about activities happening within. It is the job of the wayfinding designer to weave these voices together into a single eloquent statement as people navigate the space.

Wayfinding systems serve living environments where functions for areas change, spaces are renovated, and new facilities are constructed. Wayfinding systems must be flexible and adapt to the evolution of a place.

As I have in the previous two posts, I call your attention to Walt Disney World and the amazing use of signage throughout the property. In addition to covering the categories mentioned above, the genius of the Imagineers takes it several steps further by designing all wayfinding pieces to be an integral part of the theme the participant is experiencing.

EnchantedTalesSign

The picture above is a good representation. Found outside the location of Enchanted Tales with Belle, the primary purpose is to guide Guests to the queue for the attraction. A closer look reveals key elements of the Beauty and the Beast story (the sign in the shape of a book, Lumiere, the windmill and gears from Maurice’s inventions) as well as a cottage housing the queue wait time clock.

You aren’t just directed to the location, you are immersed in the experience even before you meet Belle.

That is the power of wayfinding.

Part One: Why Wayfinding Matters: What We Can Learn from Disney Culture

Part Two: The Wayfinding Design Process


Information from this recent series of posts has come from The Wayfinding Handbook by David Gibson. A concise and engaging work, it is an excellent resource for leaders wanting to apply the art and science of wayfinding to their organization. The extensive illustrations, using real-life examples, provide a visual analysis of the fundamentals that lead to great wayfinding design.

As a leader, you may not think of yourself as a designer. If you think this, you would be wrong.

 

Wayfinding design is an intuitive process we use all the time, one that helps us navigate the places and spaces we encounter every day. Leaders may not design a wayfinding system, but they should have a clear understanding of the process.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Adams

Bob Adams

Bob is an absolute fanatic about Guest Experiences, growing up watching his father serve customers at the gas station he built and operated for 44 years. Bob is continually connecting with corporate leaders in the customer experience world, learning and then translating practices for ChurchWorld. He writes, speaks, and consults on the topic frequently. Vocationally, Bob has a dual role at Auxano, a clarity first consulting firm serving the church. As Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader he researches, edits, writes and publishes online content. As Guest Experience Navigator, he leverages his passion, providing Guest Perspective Evaluations and Guest Experience Blueprints. Bob and his wife Anita have been married for 40 years. They have 4 children, 3 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and 5 grandchildren.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Wayfinding Design Process

The job of the wayfinding designer is to present information in public spaces that helps facilitate a seamless guest experience.

 – David Gibson, The Wayfinding Handbook

When people attempt to navigate a place for the first time, they face a series of decisions as they follow a path to their destination. There is a sequential pattern to this wayfinding process – in effect, a series of questions that people ask themselves along the way. Before starting the design process, the wayfinding designer must anticipate guest patterns, understand that logic, and apply it in the planning phase. Then work can begin on a framework for the wayfinding design program.

Here’s a scenario that’s probably familiar to many of you:

WDWEntranceSign

Imagine you are driving your family of five into Walt Disney World for the first time. As you approach the main entrance, you look up to see the sign. Most likely, you have excited children talking, laughing, or maybe singing “Let It Go.” In addition, you are listening to both your wife and your GPS instructions, trying to decide which one to follow.

Just after you drive through this sign, you immediately begin to see other signs – lots of signs!

Once you are in Walt Disney World proper, you have to locate your Resort, or maybe you are going to one of the Parks first. You approach one, feeling a mixture of hesitance and excitement: Am I going in the right direction? Is the resort I want to go to? Once in the parking lot, if there is no clear entrance marked, are you going in the right door? And once inside, How do you find the registration desk you are looking for?

At each stage in this sequence, the Guest must make decisions based on the available, and readily visible, information. The job of the wayfinding designer is to present information in public spaces that helps facilitate a seamless guest experience. In other words, the necessary sequence of movement should feel as effortless and simplified as possible so that ten steps seem to require only two or three.

The designer’s challenge is to determine where to locate signs, what they should say, and how they should say it. Thoughtful research and analysis help the designer understand a complex public place, such as a hospital or a campus or a subway system. In the process of tracing the guest’s path, the designer attempt to uncover the hidden logic of the place. Once that is clear, the designer can develop a strategic framework for the wayfinding system.

NEWS FLASH: All of the above statements are also true in churches.

When Guests come to your facilities, do they know how to drive into the parking lots? Do they know which building they are going to? Do they know which door to enter? Can they easily determine where they need to go once they step inside the building?

Church leaders must think like wayfinding designers in order to help Guests and members have a seamless guest experience while on your campus. Nothing less than excellence should be the goal.

Part Three: Sign Language

Part One: Why Wayfinding Matters: What We Can Learn from Disney Culture

Information for this series of posts comes primarily from The Wayfinding Handbook by David Gibson. It is an excellent resource for leaders who want to apply the art and science of wayfinding to their organizations.

 

Download PDF

Tags: ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Adams

Bob Adams

Bob is an absolute fanatic about Guest Experiences, growing up watching his father serve customers at the gas station he built and operated for 44 years. Bob is continually connecting with corporate leaders in the customer experience world, learning and then translating practices for ChurchWorld. He writes, speaks, and consults on the topic frequently. Vocationally, Bob has a dual role at Auxano, a clarity first consulting firm serving the church. As Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader he researches, edits, writes and publishes online content. As Guest Experience Navigator, he leverages his passion, providing Guest Perspective Evaluations and Guest Experience Blueprints. Bob and his wife Anita have been married for 40 years. They have 4 children, 3 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and 5 grandchildren.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.