Regardless of the kind of park you manage, it is vital to have a wayfinding system that improves the experiences of your visitors. The more comfortable and natural they feel moving through the park, the longer they will stay, the more frequently they will return, and the more you will accomplish your business goals.
When people go to a park, they generally want to have a lovely relaxing time. Although not quite as obvious, the comfort of all park-goers largely depends on your wayfinding system.
From park signage design to decision point choices, inclusive intentions to maintenance magic, read on for everything you need to know to improve your park wayfinding this year.
1. Wayfinding Should Assist a Visitor Throughout the Space.
When looking to improve your park wayfinding, it is necessary to consider the full visitor journey thoroughly. This starts from the moment they leave their home to when they first arrive in the park to when they ultimately depart the space. By conceiving their journey, you will be better positioned to understand what they are thinking, feeling, and needing, which should inform your wayfinding.
The best wayfinding signage systems are strategic, especially when it comes to placement, as all elements must work to make a visitor’s experience easier and more comfortable. For example, selecting the appropriate decision points (the places where visitors have to make a wayfinding choice) is integral to an effective wayfinding system. Without a clear, defined strategy, you won’t be able to have a well-executed, seamless wayfinding system, which will significantly impact how people feel when in the park.
Ultimately, the most crucial consideration when designing and implementing a wayfinding system is whether or not it improves a visitor’s experience. With proper, simple, clear, and visible wayfinding signage, visitors can find where they want to go in the park quickly.
2. Wayfinding Should be Friendly.
In addition to helping visitors find their way around the park, your wayfinding system should also be informing them and providing them with essential information. This wayfinding messaging should also be welcoming and should communicate in a friendly manner.
The design of the wayfinding signage, the colors used, and the tone of voice all need to be warm and human so that visitors feel a sense of community when they are in the park, rather than interpreting the messages as mean, harsh, or unwelcoming. For example, at entrances, you want friendly messages such as “Welcome back” or “Good to see you again!”
Avoid using alarming messages and instead, have friendly wayfinding signage. For example, rather than “Put on a mask!” or “Wash your hands!” have a tone that speaks to the collection such as “Let’s wear masks!” or “Let’s wash our hands to protect each other.”
3. Wayfinding Must be Inclusive.
Additionally, your wayfinding system must take into consideration all types of visitors. In some cases, this may mean having wayfinding signage translated in different languages. As the world becomes more globalized, it is crucial that people of all nationalities can understand directions to safely and efficiently move around parks. Therefore, you want to incorporate standard and generalized visual communication practices that are quickly and widely understood.
It also means that your system must be user-friendly for the disabled, the elderly, and those visiting with children. All of these visitors need to be equipped with the necessary tools to utilize the space. For example, individuals with physical disabilities need to identify where they can find accessible paths, ramps, and elevators. And, wheelchair users have low visibility due to their height which means this essential information must be within their eyesight.
In order to make your wayfinding system as inclusive as possible, make sure you are consulting with different end-users to understand their needs and the mobility chain. Then you can start to solve all the problems encountered during their time in the park. Similarly, test your potential solution with end-users at several stages in the creation and development process.
4. Wayfinding Systems Need to be Maintained.
One of the biggest mistakes that parks make when it comes to their wayfinding systems is that they fail to keep the system maintained. Unfortunately, as a park requires an external wayfinding system, a maintenance system must be put in place; otherwise, it is likely to be significantly affected by weather and plant growth.
After all, no matter how creative or well-designed a wayfinding system is, it isn’t much use to anyone if it can’t be adequately read or utilized. Therefore, you want to make sure that you are creating a maintenance plan that is thorough enough to include steps for both the short-term and the long-term.
Plus, not only are unmaintained wayfinding systems unhelpful they also look unprofessional and create a negative impression when a visitor first enters the space.
5. Wayfinding Requires Professional Consultants.
Whether you are looking to overhaul your current wayfinding Dubai system or are introducing it to a new project for the first time, it is crucial that you work with professional wayfinding consultants. These experts know how to balance the art and science of wayfinding design to ensure that your system is both effective and aesthetically-pleasing.
For example, for a park wayfinding design project, consultants may be tasked with formulating a comprehensive set of design standards for exterior signage throughout the park system. To do this, they will conduct a comprehensive survey of the space, paying attention to the surrounding area and the contours of the parkland.
From this point, wayfinding consultants will be able to design a wayfinding system that exists in harmony with the environment, can be easily maintained, and provides all the necessary information to visitors.
In addition to knowing how to structure and implement the project, wayfinding consultants will also work with you to ascertain the appropriate placements. Furthermore, they will ensure that the selected colors and designs are aligned with the space and your overall branding.
What do you think are the most critical elements of a park’s wayfinding system? Which aspects do you think affect a visitor’s experience the most? How would you like to improve your park’s wayfinding system? Let us know your thoughts and any other relevant insights in the comments below!
Zak Zakaria is a Waymaker at dezigntechnic in Dubai who also previously worked as the company’s Graphic Designer and Art Director. Zak is creative with work experience in multiple multinational agencies such as JWT and Saatchi & Saatchi. Signage design is a family business, making Zak’s personal experience with signage his longest professional commitment.