4. The Golden Rules: Clear, Coherent and Consistent

Person pointing at clear, coherent, and consistent posters
A guest contribution by Patrick Eley and Alan Stevenson.

The deeper you get into the art of wayfinding, the more hats you need to wear.

You need to be adept at understanding graphic design, industrial design, engineering, behavioural science, and architecture. You also need a good dose of common sense!

So in the face of all that complexity, a moment of simplicity: our three golden rules for wayfinding.

As wayfinding specialists, these three rules are the backbone of everything we do, they’re what we measure our work against to make sure it doesn’t just make the client happy, but that it actually works.

They are:

It must be CLEAR.

In wayfinding, clarity should come as no surprise. If a system isn’t clear, then we can’t trust it. And when we can’t trust it? Chaos.

It must be COHERENT.

With each sign, we need to ask ourselves, does it fit comfortably in its surroundings? Does it respond to the architecture and what it’s trying to communicate? Does it feel like it belongs here? Does it even make sense?

And it must be CONSISTENT.

If a wayfinding system is consistent, then we know exactly when and where we can expect to see a sign. This builds trust. If we come across a sign right just as we expected to, then we feel reassured. We know we’re going the right way.



Contributed by Patrick Eley and Alan Stevenson from DNCO an introduction to Chapter 4 of their new book Straight Forward: How Wayfinding Works and Why Strategy Matters.

Order your copy here.