Maps and wayfinding project
What is wayfinding?
Wayfinding is the name for the information systems that guide people through a physical environment and enhance their understanding and experience of the space. Wayfinding encompasses architectural, visual, written and verbal cues. Comprehensive wayfinding systems often combine signage, maps, symbols, colors, and other communications.
Communications and Public Affairs and Estates are working together to improve the maps and signs at the College’s South Kensington Campus to make it easier for students, staff and visitors to find their way around.
We have identified the need for a full review of the College’s current approach to wayfinding, encompassing physical and digital signage and maps.
This work started with the development of a new map and signage style for the White City Campus. We’re now focused on the South Kensington Campus, with plans to have new maps and signage installed in a pilot area of the Campus by the start of the new academic year.
Why are we doing it?
Our principal goal is to ensure that everyone – students, staff and visitors, with a full range of different access needs – can understand our maps and signage, and find their way around our Campus quickly and easily.
We have identified several issues and challenges with our current approach to wayfinding at South Kensington, which together impact the College’s brand and contribute to a less than positive experience for staff, students and visitors. These issues include:
- our maps and signage are out of step with current accessibility guidelines and best practice for wayfinding
- we lack responsive or accessible maps for the web
- there is no central location for map information (such as GIS data)
- our current map design sits outside of the College’s visual identity guidelines
- there is an inconsistent and unclear approach to marking building thresholds or organising content on principal external signage.
The evaluation of our maps and wayfinding identified a number of challenges at the South Kensington Campus.
Common spaces lack identity
Common spaces like Dalby Court can be difficult to find if you're unfamilar with the College
Current wayfinding creates confusion
The presentation of some current signage can be difficult to understand
Entrances to buildings are not marked
It can be difficult to identify where a building's main entrance is located
Sign system varies in appearance and quality
Signs of different sizes and layout can be difficult to recognise and understand
Wayfinding lacks structure
Information can be difficult to understand
Wayfinding is visual only
Signs and wayfinding rely on using sight only, which can exlcude people who rely on other senses to navigate
How the wayfinding project will benefit you
- improve the experience of all users of the South Kensington Campus, whether they are students, staff or visitors
- introduce a consistent visual appearance, tone of voice and content hierarchy that is easy to use and predict
- clearly mark the entrances to buildings and spaces
- encourage seamless navigation across the Campus, making it easier to explore new areas with confidence
- support users at touchpoints through their entire journey, from home to destination and back.
South Kensington Campus pilot: first stage implementation
As part of the maps and wayfinding project, we are running a pilot at the South Kensington Campus. The aim of this pilot is to demonstrate the effectiveness of new wayfinding using new exterior signage along the core spine of the Campus: from the College Main Entrance on Exhibition Road, through Dalby Court, along the Sherfield Walkway up to the entrance threshold of the Huxley Building.
New signage installed
New signage was installed in the pilot area in September 2019.
New signage at the College Main Entrance on Exhibition Road
Information about Professor William Ernest Dalby displayed in Dalby Court
A new campus map and improved wayfinding
Signage marking building entrances
Delivery of a new map for the White City Campus.
New directional signs installed at the White City Campus.
A roadmap for wayfinding at the South Kensington Campus developed.
Evaluation of existing wayfinding at the South Kensington Campus, with a focus on users with different needs.
Feedback from evaluation incorporated into signage for the South Kensington Campus pilot area.
New signs installed in the South Kensington Campus pilot area.
Evaluation of new external signs.
Delivery of draft wayfinding guidelines and post-implementation survey.
Full wayfinding guidelines, covering design, location and content available for use.