PAM series #6: Plans of Wayfinding Action

“The best way to plan is to identify a cross section of the environment that reflects the larger campus.”

Using this small section of the campus gives excellent insights into the entire university space, according to Stephen Minning, wayfinding expert and founder of both PAM and BrandCulture. He suggests taking a “splice” of the campus, all spaces interrelated as part of one precinct, to demonstrate the patterns and behaviours of the campus.

What should this look like?

Ideally, it’ll include some blank area – something like a village green, as well as a carpark, lecture theatre, the university gym and perhaps a pub or campus social space.

What do you do with the splice?

Once you’ve worked out which interrelated buildings will suit your experiment, you must plan for this area as if it were the entire campus. Plan where all the signs would go in this space for how it functions and interacts with each different function of the buildings. You want to ensure that you understand various architectural aspects of the structure, typical visitor behaviours and the flow between spaces as they interact.

Design for a small space – apply to a big concept, where’s the value in this?

By planning to this small space across different functionalities and buildings within a co-dependent area, you’ll be able to design some consistent principles. You are then able to take these principles from the space and apply it to your designs and plans. If you go the other way around, you’re more than likely going to find yourself trying to adapt the wayfinding to fit the space after the fact.
Importantly, if you can apply and test these plans in a small space, there’s less risk for a big reward. You’re able to identify pitfalls of a particular sign hanging method or recognise a barrier resulting from the journey of your visitor. By doing this, you can ensure that if it works in a small space, it can apply across the campus for multiple uses. Creating generic concepts in changing environment is made easier with conditional logic – if unable to place the sign at position A, try B if not then C (see the diagram above).
Outside of going through the test with less risk, this is where the real benefit comes in. Your ability to create a smaller signage set to fit various circumstances means you can avoid dozens of additional templates. Simple signage ecosystems are more accessible across the board from implementation to maintenance and keep your student or visitor experience consistent.
With your processes made simpler, there’s only thing left to do is to set up your wayfinding for future success with PAM.

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