Let’s Talk About Wayfinding

by | Facilities, Operations

By Alaina Butler

Effective wayfinding is an essential function that needs to be carefully considered for your church. But, first off, what is it? Wayfinding is anything that helps your guests navigate your church facility with confidence and ease. It’s a set of tools, usually graphics or architectural design, to help a visitor familiarize themselves with the navigational layout of a church facility. Although wayfinding is informational, it can also be creative. But in a broader context, wayfinding should be considered in architecture, interiors, landscaping, lighting, and yes, signage and graphics.

Wayfinding Through Design, Not Just Signs

Of course, wayfinding through use of signage is effective, but theming can be just as effective—while also offering a welcome atmosphere. Take this children’s wing in the picture below, for example. Even if you never read the “kids on the move” next to the logo or pay attention to the giant yellow slide, you can clearly see, aided by a bright happy lemur, that this is where you’re going to go first to get your children checked in and you’ll also remember exactly where to pick them up.

Church on the Move, Broken Arrow, OK

If you’re not ready to add in full scale theming to a children’s wing or hallway, you can always paint a bright coat of paint to an accent wall or add in some colorful temporary graphics until you’re ready for a bigger renovation project.

Christ Place, Lincoln, NE

Wayfinding Through Lighting

We tend to avoid places that are poorly lit, even inside a facility. We are wired to subconsciously think that a dark hallway or dimly lit entrance is uninviting and means danger or off limits. Making sure that lightbulbs are promptly replaced, and adding in additional lighting where needed, especially to high traffic areas, can change the entire feel of a facility, making it more welcoming to members and guests alike.

Christ Place, Lincoln, NE

Wayfinding Through Renovation

When preparing for any kind of construction project, facility renovation, or expansion, it’s good to walk through the hallways of your facility and really consider how easy they are for a new visitor to navigate. Is the layout logical? Can they figure out where to go without assistance? If not, what are some things that can be changed? Could a hallway that’s too small for the Sunday morning crowd be widened to make traffic flow smoother? How can you maximize use of natural lighting to create an inviting atmosphere? And don’t forget about parking. Are entrances and exits well placed and well marked to avoid traffic jams?

Living Stones, Crown Point, IN

A facility that’s easy to navigate could make the difference when making a first impression on guests and be a key part of their decision in coming back.

Wayfinding for Security

Wayfinding can bring a sense of safety and security for new members trying to find their way in a new facility, especially parents with children. Brightly colored theming at your children’s check-in tells parents where to go, while also ensuring safety. Limiting access to your children’s wing via a secured check-in will help keep families safe.  Making your facility feel welcoming to children and teenagers, as well as safe for families, is vital to growth.

The Assembly, West Monroe, LA

Application Time

Take a look at your church facility and evaluate your own wayfinding. What is an area of your church facility that is challenging or confusing to navigate? What are some ways that pathways can be streamlined, walkways be made clear, or your space opened to make guests feel more at ease? Don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun; the key to successful wayfinding is making sure both members and guests feel welcome and confident navigating your church facility.

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