Case Study

Leading the Way: Creating Best Practices for Public Wayfinding Systems

Leading the Way: Creating Best Practices for Public Wayfinding Systems

As U.S. cities continue to evolve in response to global changes in business, technology, and communication, the need for effective wayfinding systems and signage in our communities also continues to increase. Wayfinding elements include directional systems, directories, regulatory signs, and monuments that shape our public spaces. Wayfinding influences vehicular and pedestrian movement, including navigation within buildings and through urban environments. Without clear, legible signage, people find it more challenging to navigate public spaces and cities. Yet, communication between designers and regulators has historically been inconsistent and, at times, combative. Without open dialogue, uninformed standards in sign regulation have resulted in inconsistencies in environmental graphics across the U.S.

The Sign Research Foundation (SRF), with support from the International Sign Association (ISA), began a research effort to identify best practices from across the U.S. to establish a wayfinding model that can be adopted by communities of all sizes. The research aims to inform legislative and regulatory issues around signage codes and standards, and help communities promote economic development and enhance public safety. Resources included in the final report, Urban Wayfinding Planning and Implementation Manual, offer guidance on financing, managing the regulatory framework, administering the design process, understanding common design issues, and managing technical systems.

The psychology of wayfinding helps people safely navigate destinations that they’re new to. Signage is an invisible infrastructure most people don’t notice until they need it.

– Sapna Budev, Executive Director of the Sign Research Foundation

Participating Organizations

Sign Research Foundation (SRF)

International Sign Association (ISA)