A wayfinding masterplan is a system of parts: It’s what people do when they choose to visit an event or venue, and how they move about during their time there. Splitting the word into two gives it its true meaning: Way Finding. People are finding their way – around a venue, an event, and to and from those places, too.
Wayfinding isn’t just about how you tell people where to go during their experience of your venue, or their journey, but about helping them move, as well as the flow of people, the traffic they create and so on.
A wayfinding masterplan is built from a system of parts that are of equal value and are interdependent to each other. Each and every product should be designed for its specific location and function, providing tailored choices. Wayfinding has a huge range of influences, and, when you begin to understand that range and how they all interact, then you understand that wayfinding is much more than just a sign scheme.
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Wayfinding is, at its heart, about moving people in, around and out as quickly and in as much of a stress-free way as possible. Having a wayfinding masterplan will make navigation easier, as well as enabling navigation processes to flow more smoothly.
There are three key elements to a wayfinding masterplan: Principles, function and design.
A wayfinding masterplan has a major role in promoting outstanding venue design across a range of wayfinding products and services that transform the user experience. A tailored set of wayfinding products and services will improve the experience for spectators and visitors to the venue regardless of its size.
Visitor experience at the heart of a wayfinding masterplan
It all leads back to the user experience. Of course, there are variables when it comes to the movement of people. Anything from their family or party they’re travelling with and their needs, accessibility and mobility requirements, through to their food and drink consumption. For example, at a concert or festival, where there might have been alcohol consumption affecting people’s speed of movement and attention to directions.
A wayfinding masterplan uses a system of parts that makes spaces easier to use and navigate and improves the user experience. There are so many different elements in a wayfinding masterplan that are more than ‘just signs’:
- The colours you use
- A landmark or key retailer
- Information about the venue
- What the different areas are called
These can all be seen in the Olympic Park wayfinding masterplan, from the magenta of the signs, to the iconic Orbit structure, through to the names of the venues, for example, the Copperbox, and Olympic Stadium.
Before reaching the venue, other elements come into play: The website, or an app, ticketing information, emails that are sent to visitors before they travel. Any guidance that is received before arriving needs to align with what is then at the venue or location. For example, car parks marked ‘A, B, C’ on a map on app or website need to be ‘A, B, C’ at the venue (and not, for example, ‘1, 2, 3’).
(image of the VE in the middle of four circles here)
Last mile and the wayfinding masterplan
Focusing on the journey and arrival, the ticketing and the visitor experience once in the venue means that the last mile is often an overlooked part of the wayfinding masterplan. Yet, it is a key part of the process, and arguably one of the most important elements of the success of a plan. Movement of crowds and visitors need to be looked at as a whole, including the last mile, and not just within the red line.
Maps and people are also a huge part of the plan. A steward dressed in the right colour scheme can help the movement of users and vastly improve the user experience (we saw this clearly with the GamesMakers at the London Olympics and will see it at the upcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games).
Pre-empting the Visitor Experience via the Wayfinding Masterplan
The solution in many ways is to pre-empt what people will want to know before they need to know it. For example, at an airport, if you need to advise people that they will need to empty out water bottles before entering security, the best next step is to have a way of them refilling their bottles when they have passed through security – and clear advice on how to access that, such as stewards or staff telling them where they can refill.
When you have a wayfinding masterplan in place, the space will become easier to use and navigate. Visitors will enjoy interacting with the different elements too, and that has a knock-on effect for your venue and event. That could be anything from major elements such as the zoning of a park – seen at the Farnborough Air show – to the more ‘minor’, such as people sharing a selfie with the steward, or a photograph of a landmark on social media. It extends as far as feedback and reviews, too.
A wayfinding masterplan is about the event itself, but it’s also about the longevity and future of the event and the company that runs it. Creating a plan that covers the whole event, and considering the way people move around in it creates customer satisfaction – which in turn drives revenue and increases the chances of visitors coming back next time.