Why the brief is so important.

For somebody that operates or manages a venue or event, the wayfinding at it or event is a key part of the process. Perhaps even the biggest challenge that you will face, as the demands on the venue, its resources and facilities fall to you and your team.

It is likely in your working experience you have met with a designer who wasn’t too worried about you providing them with a brief. A designer who might be happy to hear ‘Whatever you think!’ and forges ahead without coming back to you for clarity.

And, of course, their experience would allow them to forge ahead to a certain degree.

But without a brief, the designer or wayfinding masterplanner are guessing, estimating and assuming on behalf of the you, the client – shopping for you without a list. And then the changes, the amends that come, are manyfold as you react to what they have suggested. Only then can they begin to understand what it is you would like and what you expect. It’s only in hindsight they can begin to see your proposal take shape.

With no brief, the entire wayfinding masterplan is open to interpretation. A project is open to risks that can all lead to a bottleneck of amends, and, despite your best intentions, an unhappy relationship. There are assumptions, and those are often only addressed at the tail end of the process.

A brief has numerous elements that will work together to make sure that the plans you want are executed in the smoothest and most accurate way possible. Here are some key elements to include in your brief for a designer so they can begin your wayfinding masterplan with as much information as possible:

  • Background information on a project – this allows them to see what has and hasn’t worked in the past and build on those successes. This might be benchmarks from similar venues and events.
  • Any guidance, legislation or industry standards so your system meets certain industry standards – so your designers are creating a plan that will be in line with the guidelines you have to follow for your specific event, sport or venue.
  • Any data you have available on previous events or current crowd movement and experience – this will enable the designer to focus on pain points for your clients, and solve them with key elements in the new wayfinding masterplan.
  • Any modelling of the site – to give them in-depth insight into the site, and maximise their initial suggestions with the model in mind. This might be when peak arrival and departure times are, how long queues might be. The designer can then build a response for these into the wayfinding masterplan. Does the venue operate in different modes?
  • What information you really want in your venue’s wayfinding, and how you want that provided – this can include the types of wayfinding, from signs to colours, and allows discussion from the outset if something might not work from a design point of view.
  • How you would like to use different products in different ways to maximise user experience and visitor experience. With that in mind, the designer can create a plan that is in line with your vision for future customers. Is there a budget for digital or dynamic products, does the venue use an app, is an event reliant on volunteers?

A client often tells a wayfinding master planner what they wanted in hindsight – and that can be frustrating and time consuming for both sides.  Thinking about what you want your requirements to be, discussing them up front and creating a clear, concise brief will reward you countless times throughout the wayfinding process.

And, perhaps most of all, it shows the designer that you really care about your wayfinding masterplan

If you’re considering a brief for a designer, GJ+H can help – we create wayfinding briefs and can consult with you on yours.

Get in touch today to discuss how we can help.

You can engage GJ+H to review your system. Use the contact button above to start the conversation with us.

Download the GJ+H Wayfinding Workshop course on brief writing