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Emotional and functional benefits of wayfinding systems in your community

Karen Fawcett, CEDIK Program Coordinator

Wayfinding is the ability to orient oneself based on repeated cues from the physical environment such as physical landmarks or signage. It can benefit a community in many ways by strengthening community identity, providing direction through town and surrounding county, highlight interesting destinations, complement town profiles, and strategically improve livability.  Jayoung Koo, professor in the UK Department of Landscape Architecture, has authored three new Wayfinding publications highlighting the benefits, goals, and barriers to the community, residents, and visitors.  The publications illustrate the integrated relationship between an individual’s wayfinding ability and signage system within the community.

wayfinding1_thumbStart your Wayfinding exploration by reading Effective Navigation through Your Community: Wayfinding and Signage Systems for Communities.   Wayfinding is defined and project benefits are listed in an easy to read table.  Koo further writes about examples and reasons for a group to convene and plan a wayfinding system for their community.  Smaller communities may be challenged because of the assumption their residents know where things are located.  “However, a lack of wayfinding elements can present an uninviting atmosphere for visitors, the very people many communities are striving to attract for tourism and economic activity,” writes Koo.

wayfinding2_thumbHow to formulate a wayfinding plan and generate ideas is simplified in Wayfinding Planning and Design with Communities.  A five step process is mapped out with useful ideas, hints, and directions to provide you with a framework to establish a community plan. History and illustrations solidify the concepts and directions to allow a group to successfully plan and design a wayfinding system for their community.

wayfinding3_thumbWayfinding Planning and Design at Work provides information on two projects to provide a range of ideas and illustrations that could be considered in a community.  The scope of the project, funding sources, a historical glimpse, and significance of each project is explained to allow the reader a chance to acknowledge and visualize different systems to effectively reflect the identity of the community.  While the scale of the case studies may differ from your own community, the components of the successful examples can be applicable to individual community goals.

Community readiness, as read in our last blog post, can be thought of as community members’ collective willingness to take on new projects or their state of openness to community change.  A wayfinding system is an excellent opportunity to highlight the positive physical attributes a community has to offer, convey information and enhance a travel experience.  It is a chance to make your community strengths more visible to your residents and possibly entice visitors to stop in and stay a while longer.

To learn more about community design assistance offered by CEDIK, visit https://cedik.ca.uky.edu/content/community-design.

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