9. The Process: How Wayfinding Projects Come Together

People waving
A guest contribution by Patrick Eley and Alan Stevenson.

No part of the place creation process happens in isolation and wayfinding, an extremely collaborative practice, is no different. To understand what goes into a typical wayfinding project, it helps to understand the many people involved in its success. In the final chapter of Straight Forward we get to know these characters better.

At the top of the pyramid: the client. The client usually comprises a group of people responsible for commissioning the scheme and the project’s progress, but often they’re a different team to the group responsible for maintaining the wayfinding system once it’s in use. Both are important to get to know from the start.

If a Quantity Surveyor (QS) is involved, they are responsible for the financial side of the project and are typically directly employed by the client. They will have their eye on the production budget.

Then there’s the architect. Not every project will have one unless the project is a new-build or refurb job. By the time a wayfinding specialist is involved, the architect will have likely been working on this project for months, if not years. They know every nook and cranny of the building, they’re the keeper of all the floor plans and they’ll know exactly what the client likes and dislikes. They’re also the ones to work with to ensure the signage design shares the same language as the building design – in other words, it’s worth befriending the architect!

Next, the wider stakeholder group. This includes anyone with a vested interest in the project. They could be the people funding it, they could be health and safety advisors or local residents groups. Most of them will have an opinion. Our advice: Listen to everyone, and judge carefully where to adapt.

Finally, there’s the wayfinding specialist. That’s us! We work with the clients and architects to establish the design ambition and plot out what sign goes where and importantly what each needs to say. We can work with brand designers to make sure the identity of the brand is expressed correctly, and with the contractors to make sure the physical signs are produced to spec and can be long-lasting.


Contributed by Patrick Eley and Alan Stevenson from DNCO an introduction to Chapter 9 of their new book Straight Forward: How Wayfinding Works and Why Strategy Matters.

Order your copy here.