What is Wayfinding?
Additional Resources

Wayfinding can be defined as spatial problem solving. It is knowing where you are in a building or an environment, knowing where your desired location is, and knowing how to get there from your present location. There are several principles that go into wayfinding, but our website focuses on the principles of architectural clues, lighting, sight lines, and signage. These features are information support systems to wayfinding. Users rely on these principles when making decisions about how to reach their destination. A good wayfinding system gives strong indicators of where the user is and how to get to her destination from her present location. Wayfinding problems occur when decisions cannot be executed. In a poor wayfinding system, the user does not have enough information to decide his or her course of action.

Ineffective wayfinding systems are very problematic for buildings because of the costs they can incur and the time that users devote to searching for a desired location. In an environment where bad wayfinding systems occur, people rely on the staff of the building to direct them to their destination. Further, users may also become so frustrated with the environment that they will not return. If a building has good wayfinding features, the user should have a positive experience when reaching their destination. The buildings that we feature in our site can enhance their wayfinding features by looking at the properties and seeing how they can use them to assist individuals with finding their destinations.


General Wayfind Resources

Passini, Romedi. Wayfinding in Architecture.  New York : Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, (1984).

This book gives a wonderful introduction to wayfinding and its importance in architecture.  The author describes the wayfinding experience of users, and the cognitive processes they use to find their destinations.  There is also a thorough description of wayfinding features in architecture such as signage, maps, and architectural space. 


Ottosson, Torgny.  Map-Reading and Wayfinding.  Goteborg, Sweden : Acta Universitatis Gothobrugensis, (1987).

Torgny Ottosson’s book focuses on wayfinding’s relationship to map-reading and the cognitive process of navigating areas.  The fourth chapter of the book goes into detail on the cognitive process of wayfinding, and conceptions of environments.   


Design Principles of Wayfinding

< http://www.infoarch.ai.mit.edu/publications/mfoltz-thesis/node8.html >

This article gives a thorough introduction to how wayfinding features in design can influence the navigability of buildings.  The article covers the wayfinding principles of signage, landmark use, and well-structured paths.  The author also explains how it is important to use these principles so as to limit the choices of the user. 


Comparing the Complexity of Wayfinding Tasks in Built Envirnoments.  Martin Raubal


The article by Martin Raubal explains the cognitive process behind human wayfinding.  His article includes a very informative section on cognitive maps and human wayfinding performance. 


In Search Of…Wayfinding: an Overview of Three Wayfinding Systems.  Steve Aust


The article by Steve Aust gives a terse introduction to some principles of wayfinding.  He explains that a wayfinding system must include the right amount of information.  According to Aust, too much information can be just as problematic as having too little information in a wayfinding system. 


Wayfinding. Center for Accessible Environments. 

< http://www.cae.org.uk/abd_articles/wayfinding.html >

This article by the Center for Accessible Environments deals with the implementation of the Visitor Information Network in the Science Museum of London.  The article explains the wayfinding problems that the system is going to solve.  It is useful for understanding the various wayfinding problems that may occur in places that have numerous visitors with different wayfinding needs and capabilities.


Wayfinding in Health Care Facilities

Calmenson, Diane Wintroub.  Beyond the Basics of Health Care Design. 

< http://www.isdesignet.com/Magazine/Jan’96/Cover.html >

This article explains Jain Malkin’s research in effective wayfinding and health care facilities.  The author explains how Malkin’s research shows that effective wayfinding can influence the well-being of the clients. 


Carpman, Janet R.  Wayfinding in Health Facilities

< http://www.muhc.mcgill.ca/healing/english/Speakers/carpman_p.html >

The article by Janet Carpmen explains the cost of ineffective wayfinding systems for health care facilities.  The article also includes a very informative section on wayfinding behavior, and how to develop an effective wayfinding system.  There is also a section on the wayfinding strategies of users of health care facilities. 


Wayfinding in Libraries

Sign Systems for Libraries. Edited by Dorothy Pollet and Peter C. Haskell.  New York:

R.R. Bowker Company, 1979.

This book is a collection of articles written by librarians, architects, and graphic designers.  The articles deal with wayfinding in libraries, and principles of visual guidance that can be used to enhance wayfinding.  Many of the articles are on the design and implementation of signage systems within libraries.