Why research is the ticket to successful airport wayfinding
The last time I blogged on GS&P Dialogue, our environmental graphics team had recently completed the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Report 52, titled Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside. Using the best practices we established in the guide, our team has since completed several wayfinding programs and studies for airports across the country. While each project has its own unique environment, objectives and challenges, wayfinding solutions all start with the same common element: research.
To begin with, wayfinding is more than just signs; it requires a holistic approach based on communicating information that helps people make the right decision at the right time. The components of a wayfinding program begin as motorists enter the airport area from nearby roadways, and they continue until the passenger has arrived at his or her gate. So a thorough understanding of the airport’s design, current wayfinding problems and complete passenger experience is essential when improving your airport’s wayfinding program.
Our comprehensive wayfinding studies for major international airports include data collection, passenger feedback, surveys and analysis that serve as the baseline for all recommendations we make to each airport. Wayfinding research is based on data obtained through one or more evaluation methods:
- Ergonomic Sign Assessment
- Frequently Asked Questions Survey
- Task Analysis
- Survey of Unfamiliar Passengers
These types of data paint a clear picture of existing conditions and target the major focus areas in a way that goes beyond the typical approach to a wayfinding study, which usually just evaluates the physical airport areas.
About the Author: As a principal of the firm, Jim Harding, SEGD, leads GS&P's award-winning environmental graphic design group. His vast signage and wayfinding design experience is unique in the breadth of industries and project types it covers. Jim has been honored more than a dozen times for his work on various signage projects at universities, airports, hospitals and other major wayfinding efforts. Jim served as the Principle Investigator for a new wayfinding guidebook for airports which was published in September 2011. More on Jim Harding