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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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.

4 Simple Steps for Exponentially Better Guest Experience

What would it look like if this coming Sunday morning, your church’s entire Guest Services Ministry Team didn’t show? Imagine no neon-vested minions directing traffic or over-caffeinated greeters guiding guests. I wonder if the scene might border on apocalyptic, with panicked pastors pacing the hallways, pandemonium in the parking lot and zombie-eyed parents with kids in tow left to fend for themselves?

What if you were forced to rely solely upon your facility’s design to guide each guest?

Think about it: could every visitor flawlessly navigate an entire Sunday morning experience intuitively or would the self-guided experience result in a blundered debacle? And what happens to those people, often first-timers, who want to navigate your building on their own and manage to skillfully evade your welcome team each week? You know it happens.

Here’s the cold hard truth: if newcomers are unable to intuitively navigate your facility, it indicates you’ve got a huge design problem on your hands. Because good design always makes usability more intuitive. And intuitive environments empower great guest experiences.

Often, churches use their guest services ministry as a duct tape to patch the holes of defective design. It’s true– your building may need a complete overhaul. But maybe you could begin to curate a better guest experience now by making your building a little more intuitive.

HERE ARE FOUR OF THE MOST BASIC RULES TO CURATING A MORE INTUITIVE GUEST EXPERIENCE:
1. POINT THE WAY

Thoughtful “way-finding” and quality signage is absolutely the best way to curate a more intuitive experience. Clear and strategic directional signs that guide and move people through ministry environments will empower guests to take control of their own spiritual experience from day one.

Guest Experience
Eastside Christian Church – Anaheim, CA

Keep in mind that “way-finding” doesn’t always demand a huge ugly directional sign mounted to the wall. Sometimes, the best label is a strong branded space that intuitively directs your guests. For example, your main entry door should be unmistakable – no sign required. Four-year-olds should intuitively know where they belong and be naturally drawn to your kids’ environment.

Guest Experience
Eastside Christian Church – Anaheim, CA
2. SIMPLIFY THE OPTIONS

Some of the best apps on your phone only contain 2-4 buttons on your screen at a time. The app may organize the library of a billion songs, yet there are still only 2-4 choices available. Simplicity is what makes complexity usable.

The parking lot is a great place to begin thinking about simplifying the user’s options. Add a dozen orange cones to reduce a driver’s turn choices and forge a unified traffic flow (and for the record, the need of traffic cones could indicates poor parking design).

Guest Experience
Calvary Baptist Church – St College, PA
3. DEVELOP MINISTRY DISTRICTS

Another way to simplify complexity is to consolidate what you have. Think about it, grocery stores group all of the dairy, meat and bread into their own individual districts. It’s what makes finding hamburger so intuitive. Home improvement stores have both plumbing and painting districts. It’s even likely that your socks and jeans don’t live in the same dresser drawer but have their own “districts.”

If you want to make your building more intuitive, then your ministries should also be grouped into similar districts throughout your building. For example, children should all be together in their own secure district that is visually differentiated from all the other parts of the building. Additionally, there should be a youth district, worship district, admin district and connecting space.

Guest Experience
Calvary Baptist Church – St College, PA
4. FAVOR CLARITY OVER CREATIVITY

Guests crave simplicity and clarity. So, for heaven’s sake, make sure the names of your environments actually describe what they are. As a guest, I just want to know where the coffee is and where to drop off my kids. So when you use the greek word for “coffee” to name coffee corner or some creative nonsensical jib jab to brand your kids check-in, it’s not helpful (even though it may be super creative).

Guest Experience
Bayside Church – Roseville, CA

Know where to get creative and where to use common sense design patterns. And when it comes to creating intuitive spaces, always favor clarity over creativity.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Milam

Dave Milam

Dave Milam is a visioneer, strategist and visual storyteller whose right brained style of delivery helps his listener connect in a uniquely immersive way. As a member of the Visioneering Studios team, Dave equips leaders by leveraging art and science to launch inspired vision into reality.

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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.

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.

Why Wayfinding Matters: What We Can Learn from Disney Culture

Walt Disney World is aptly named:

Spanning 40 square miles, Walt Disney World Resort is approximately the size of San Francisco, or nearly twice the size of Manhattan. The property features:

  • Four theme parks
  • Two water adventure parks
  • 35 resort hotels (26 owned and operated by Walt Disney World, including seven Disney Vacation Club properties)
  • 63 holes of golf on four courses
  • Two full-service spas
  • Disney’s Wedding Pavilion
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports complex
  • Disney Springs, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex

On an average day, there are approximately 250,000 people on Walt Disney World Resort property – including Cast Members, other employees and guests.

Walt Disney World Cast Members come from all over the world, representing more than 80 nationalities and speaking more than 50 different languages.

All of which begs the question:

How do people find their way around Walt Disney World?

Wayfinding design provides guidance and the means to help people feel at ease in their surroundings.

– David Gibson, The Wayfinding Handbook

In the 1980s, the design firm Sussman/Prejza was engaged to reimagine the wayfinding and signage system for Walt Disney World (and also for the developing Euro Disney project, now known as Disneyland Paris).

Established in 1968, Sussman/Prejza works with its clients to develop memorable identities and branding, based upon research and graphic archeology. Abstract stories are woven into the visual product, creating a sense of place and memories that users retain and remember. S/P’s work has pushed the boundaries of environmental graphic design to meld cohesively with architecture, civic planning, and landscape design.

The recognized trailblazer in this discipline, Sussman/Prejza’s expertise can be seen in civic, cultural, corporate, sports, institutional, entertainment and retail projects around the globe.

At Walt Disney World, all Guests arrive by highway or freeway, so the main task of Sussman/Prejza was to develop a vehicular signing system that would be “unique in spirit, clean, easy-to-follow, and capable of being expanded as the area continued to grow.”

The theme park was divided into several major “districts.” A hierarchy of signs was established to first lead Guests toward a specific district, and once there, toward a distinct destination. The 1,000-sign system (now greatly expanded) includes large freeway signs, major and minor road directional, regulatory signs, gateways, and bus graphics.

SPAreaMap

In order to develop a wayfinding system that would cover an area so large while at the same time stay flexible enough for growth, Sussman/Prejza started with a basic color palette and shape guide.

SPPalette

The color palette consists of lavender, blue, and green, chosen to emphasize the black, red, and gold used to create Mickey Mouse. Of the various shapes, the “mouse ears” reinforce the iconic symbol used to represent Mickey Mouse.

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:

  1. The nature of the client organization
  2. The people with whom the organization communicates
  3. 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?

Part Two: 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.

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.

Church Signage, Part 1: Exterior Signs

Besides the building itself, a church’s primary sign is its first impression. It’s our first chance to tell the community who we are, what we value, and what we do. It’s also one of our best shots at inviting people to join us. Here are some things to keep in mind when you think about your church’s primary sign:

  • Make it big, but not too big.
  • Place it in your most visible location.
  • Make sure it fits with the overall look of your church.
  • Make it durable.
  • Make it clear.
  • Give information.
  • Marquee or not?

Sometimes you only have one chance to advertise. When people go by your church, what are you saying to them?

Read the full article here.

Read more from Erin here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Williams

Erin Williams loves to write for the church and individual Christians within it. She lives in a fun yellow house in Dallas and enjoys family, friendship, working hard, food and wine, fitness, coffee and ranches.

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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.