Wayfinding is the key process through which a destination is made more navigable and thus more accessible to its users. It is comprised of many features including the inherent architecture of a space as well as graphical elements such as signage (waymarking).
A successful wayfinding system serves to open a space through clear communication on how to safely and efficiently reach desired destinations, facilities and special features, such as points of interest. The more complex a space is, the more it is reliant on the efficacy of its wayfinding.
As a graphic designer, I would like to share information on how waymarking can successfully contribute to a wayfinding system, and what features enable a sign system to be more understood by its users. ThisN information is about accessibility for general users of a space and is supplementary to any accessibility regulations for the disabled.
We interact with signage in stages and it is useful to break down a sign system into these stages to best explain how to use signs effectively. The first stage is awareness – a sign needs to be sufficiently eye-catching so that we notice it within a space, this can be achieved through elements such as scale, contrast and repetition. The signs need to be easily seen in the places where people are likely to require them and to also catch our attention to aid navigation even if we are not actively looking for help.
Once we have noticed the sign, we need to be able to understand the information being presented. This can be achieved through the use of clear type, language and universal symbols. It is important that the content communicated by the text and symbols is obvious, so that the only choice the user has to make is about what information is relevant to them as opposed to working out what that information might mean.
Once we have understood the information and make a decision, and choose our route, it is important that there is signage that reinforces the correct path to the destination. This is achieved through repetition, the frequency of which is determined by the nature of the space. The last stage is the destination which needs to sufficiently communicate to the user that they have arrived, and in the right place, and where necessary further information on how to engage with that space, whether it is points of interest related to the culture of the destination or safety procedures.
Waymarking involves not only considerations of layout and design theory, but also of consumer behaviour and semiotics. It is important to understand who the users of a space are in order to create signage that truly resonates with that audience