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CHAPTER 2 Signing and Wayfinding Process 2.1 Introduction A guidebook can only cover a certain level of detail and inevitably an airport will encounter a wayfinding challenge that is not specifically addressed. This chapter is written to help airports understand the "why" that drives the "what" by providing the tools to help them understand the signing and wayfinding process and to enable them to develop a wayfinding strategy that works for their specific needs. Part one beginning in Section 2.2 covers the analysis aspect of the signing and wayfinding process. Part two begins in Section 2.3 and details the three steps for developing a wayfinding strategy: · Buy-in (value), · Philosophy, and · Logic. The subjects of wayfinding philosophy and logic can be somewhat abstract, so these sections include simple analogies to help illustrate some key concepts. This chapter will also help an airport understand how to deal with the following two issues: · Changes: There is a tendency to focus only on the extent of the changes, but airports also must understand what the true impact zone is. · Complaints: There is a temptation to try and just fix the problem area, leading to tunnel vision. The airport really needs to determine how this problem area fits into the overall wayfind- ing system. Continuity and connectivity are the two key principles covered in this chapter that can truly help airports solve problems and perpetuate the integrity of their wayfinding system. 2.2 Analysis 2.2.1 Establishing Need: Considering Users in Design In order to ensure that airport users can comfortably and successfully navigate from the road- ways to the airport gates, roadways, buildings, and signs must be designed with their needs in mind. Effective signing begins with airport layout. Airport and building layouts that organize destinations in simple and logical ways require less and simpler signing than those with more complex layouts. Building layouts that are organized according to user expectations (e.g., check- in counters are accessed just beyond the entrance) require less signing than those that violate expectations with unusual layouts. 4
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Signing and Wayfinding Process 5 An effective signing system is one that has been designed with the users' physical, perceptual and cognitive needs in mind. A systems analysis approach, described herein, ensures that the majority of user needs with regard to wayfinding will be appropriately accommodated. 2.2.2 Systems Analysis Approach A systems analysis approach to the signing process considers the following: · The goal of the system, · All user categories, · User tasks, · Information needed to carry out those tasks, · User characteristics and limitations (and how those affect information presentation), and · Potential errors made by users. 2.2.3 Goal of Signing System An appropriate goal for an airport signing system would be to ensure safe, convenient and effi- cient access for all users to and from nearby roadways and arterials to all areas within the airport terminals and parking facilities. 2.2.4 Airport User Categories With respect to users, there are many categories to be considered in an airport setting. These include the following: · Unfamiliar passengers or drivers picking up or dropping off passengers, · Familiar passengers or drivers picking up or dropping off passengers (when changes are made), · Passengers with disabilities of various kinds, · Non-traveling visitors who are there to greet/send off passengers, · Ground transportation drivers, · Delivery drivers, and · Airport employees. Each category of user must be systematically considered to ensure all origin-destination signing needs have been included in the planning and design of the signing system. 2.2.5 Structuring the Signing System Sign content is determined by the wayfinding tasks that must be carried out by each user cate- gory. First, the most common wayfinding chains should be determined for each airport user category. For unfamiliar passengers, the most important wayfinding chain will start with a nearby roadway or arterial and proceed to the desired terminal and arrivals level, up to arriving at the gate. Wayfinding chains must be considered from each direction (e.g., from the airport gate back to the roadway). To avoid overloading users with information, a hierarchy of destinations is used. For exam- ple, typically baggage claim and ground transportation are signed for arriving passengers at the gates. Based on experience, most passengers will expect to find information about the airport exit, rental cars, taxis, limos, buses and parking once they reach baggage claim. A simple hierarchy of guiding passengers from the gate to baggage claim and ground transportation can simplify the number of messages without having to use a comprehensive list that creates information over- load. Using such signing hierarchies, as long as they are anticipated by users, greatly simplifies
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6 Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside signing by providing information on a need-to-know basis. The wayfinding chains assist in iden- tifying the hierarchy of destinations. Sign systems within any one area of the airport (e.g., roadways, parking garage, terminal) should be standardized with respect to terminology, lettering style, location and meaning of color. When users are confronted by a complex environment, they are more easily able to locate sign information if it is presented in a consistent format. 2.2.6 Considering User Limitations in Sign Design and Location Airport users have visual and cognitive limitations that impact the design of signs and should be considered to ensure signs are effective. Effective signs require human factors expertise in development and testing in order to meet the following requirements: Conspicuous. The color and light on the signs contrast with their background so they are easily detected from the sign's surroundings. Signs should also be located where users expect to find them. Concise. Passengers are unlikely to spend more than a few seconds trying to extract informa- tion from a sign. Information presented at any one location should be selected in accordance with the destination hierarchy and provided on a need-to-know basis. Comprehensible. Although the meaning of a sign may be clear to the designer, it may not be clear to airport users. To ensure comprehension of symbol signs and many text signs, evaluation with representative users is required. (Note: members of the design team or anyone familiar with the sign design project cannot be considered to be "representative users"). Symbols may be in wide use, yet poorly understood. For example, various arrow shapes are used and directions "straight ahead" versus "go up one level" may be confused. Comprehension of map display signs is improved if they are oriented to be read from the same perspective as the viewer. Legible. Signs should be comfortably legible at the distance at which the user is first likely to look for them. A user with 20/20 vision can barely resolve sign information at 58 feet away for each inch of letter height. A more reasonable expectation, given a range of visual capabilities and non-optimal contrasts or lighting, would be 40 feet for each inch of letter height. The MUTCD recommends using 30 feet of legibility distance for each inch of letter height as a design goal. To be comfortably legible, text needs to be much larger than this. For complex displays (e.g., termi- nal maps), the use of the sign by several users at once should be considered, so that the text is comfortably legible from the distance a user is likely to stand. Location. The various pathways to reach an area must be considered. There can be a number of entrance doors to a terminal and check-in counter information should be visible from each, with a minimum amount of walking and searching for it. Signs must be located at decision points where the user has the option of taking different paths. Signing on roadways is much more chal- lenging because of the speed at which the user is moving. The same requirements discussed herein apply, but information load and location of signs is much more critical. User requirements for signs intended for drivers are discussed in more detail in Chapter 4. 2.2.7 Evaluation Methods There is increased interest in the level of service (LOS) provided to passengers, with an over- all goal to better align airport operations with the expectations of users. A number of methods can be used to evaluate a wayfinding system. The following are four approaches: · Ergonomic Sign Assessment: Signs representative of the entire signing system are evaluated with respect to conspicuousness, legibility, information load, comprehension, and placement.
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Signing and Wayfinding Process 7 Importance of Wayfinding "Studies consistently show the importance of wayfinding and give it significant weight with respect in the determination of the overall LOS of the terminal. Regression analysis by Correia et al. (2008), for example, produced results showing that wayfinding was the third most important of 10 LOS variables considered-- scoring higher than check-in and departure lounge. Similarly, de Barros et al. (2007), when considering transfer (connecting) passengers, found wayfinding the fourth most important of 21 variables"1. This research is significant because it validates how wayfinding in an airport affects the passenger experience and supports the need to properly evaluate the wayfinding experience. The ergonomic assessment would establish the major wayfinding chains and then evaluate signs along the route with respect to the qualities noted. The wayfinding chain concept is introduced in Section 220.127.116.11. · Frequently Asked Questions Survey: When passengers experience wayfinding difficulties they are likely to ask airport or concession staff for help. Both airlines and concessionaires benefit from good signing. Interviews with staff can be used to identify the most common wayfinding questions in each area of the airport. Key staff (e.g., official airport volunteers) can be given a list with the most common questions (this reduces workload for staff assist- ing in the survey), and can tabulate the number of times these questions are asked over a defined period. Any additional questions can be added as they are asked. Frequently asked questions will assist in identifying signing problems. Any FAQ survey must record time of day and date since type of questions may be dependent on both. (See Appendix A for a sample FAQ survey.) · Task Analysis: Major wayfinding chains would need to be established. People unfamiliar with the airport, but potential passengers, would be recruited and asked to travel to various desti- nations within the airport accompanied by a researcher. A verbal protocol would be used whereby each participant would voice their thoughts as they carry out the wayfinding tasks, giving the researcher insight into where and why wayfinding problems occur. · Survey of Unfamiliar Passengers: Unfamiliar passengers willing to fill in a survey could be recruited in the parking garage before they enter the terminal. The survey would be collected at the gate. The questions should focus on where along the journey the participant was not con- fident about their path or where they got lost, where they looked for and could not find specific signs and where they had to ask someone for directions. (See Appendix A for a sample FAQ survey.) In each of these methods, step one is to determine the survey objective using a sound system of developing and evaluating questionnaires with the sole purpose of evaluating the wayfinding system. These wayfinding evaluations will determine what corrective action(s) may be necessary. The list of corrective actions can be prioritized in one of several ways: · Cost--Least expensive to most expensive · Time--Short-term solutions versus long-term solutions · Benefit--What level of improvement will each change yield
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8 Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside Developing and Evaluating Questionnaires Questionnaires were administered to determine how passengers at Calgary Interna- tional Airport (YYC) were concerned about ease of wayfinding and about their pre- ferred methods of navigation. The questionnaire was developed in three stages during the collection of data. It consisted of five, seven or eight questions. Although five questions were similar for all those surveyed, there were additions on the later questionnaires. Questionnaires were administered after subjects had been told about the study and asked if they were willing and able to complete the questionnaire. Figures 2.1 and 2.2 show the results from the survey at YYC. Figure 2.1. Wayfinding aids used at YYC. Figure 2.2. Perceived ease of wayfinding at YYC.
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Signing and Wayfinding Process 9 Resources are finite, so by using each of these criteria, an airport should be able to develop an action plan that will provide the best wayfinding value for the capital dollar. If the corrections are minimal, cost may not be an issue and implementation of the changes can be expedited fairly easily. However, if the correction cost is substantial, an airport may be reluctant to make the nec- essary financial commitment. In this case, a testing period may help. 2.2.8 Passenger Circulation Analysis 18.104.22.168 Information Trees Passengers should be able to access wayfinding information easily and accurately, so it is important to plan a consistent sign system for each route from roadway to gate and vice versa. To help plan for all of the various wayfinding scenarios, create a circulation tree for departing, arriving and connecting passengers that is specific to your airport (Figure 2.3). Account for the different types of passengers on each circulation tree. For instance, on the departure circulation tree passengers will be arriving by rental car, taxi, limo, shuttle, or mass transit; some will be dropped off and others will self-park. At first, each of these passenger types will be searching for different information, but ultimately will be searching for the same destination--the terminal-- from different parts of the airport. 22.214.171.124 Circulation Analysis A circulation analysis is basically using a site plan or floor plan to plot the wayfinding routes according to the circulation tree exercise (Figures 2.4 and 2.5). The following steps outline this process as it relates to an airport terminal: · Once each circulation tree is complete, start laying out the arrival route (use green lines); the departing route (use red lines); and other key destinations (to baggage claim, etc.). · Circle the decision points--a big circle for primary decision points, small circle for secondary decision points. · Determine how the vertical wayfinding will transfer between levels. Is the elevator within sight of the escalator, for example, without a series of directional signs to the elevator? Depending Figure 2.3. Typical circulation tree for departing passengers.
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10 Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside Source: Mineta San Jose' International Airport. Figure 2.4. Circulation analysis diagram: departures level 2--terminal B at San Jose International Airport (SJC). Source: Mineta San Jose' International Airport. Figure 2.5. Circulation analysis diagram: arrivals level 2--terminal B at SJC. on the complexity of the terminal architecture and the wayfinding route, it may be difficult to follow on a simple floor plan. While it requires additional effort preparing a series of floor plans, using an axonometric view will provide a complete overview of the terminal. · Before placing any sign locations, consider the use of architecture to facilitate the wayfinding. For example, architectural treatments may be used to identify a decision point and reinforce the wayfinding. · Place each directional sign according to the decision points (circles on the plan). Review the architecture context including understanding ceiling heights and conditions. · Look for any particularly troubling wayfinding decision points, where you must establish a clear zone around the sign that prohibits other visual graphic elements, including advertise- ments and art. · Review the viewing distances between decision points and determine if any additional signs are required. Regular spacing reinforces consistency and builds on passenger confidence and expectancy. · Check visibility. Will it be easy to see the sign from afar? Are there other elements that impact the visibility of the sign? Consider the placement of other signs to avoid creating visual clutter. · Calculate the necessary letter height for minimum legibility requirements and then determine the sign panel sizes. · Review lighting requirements. If the sign system is not illuminated, understand the ambient lighting levels, both day and night, where signs are needed. · Identify locations of directory maps or flight information displays. These steps can be applied to a new sign system or in an existing sign system; or they can be applied in an existing terminal or new construction. 2.2.9 Evaluation of Current Wayfinding System Solving a complex wayfinding problem is not an easy task, and a major driver in any solution is cost. So how does an airport determine the best wayfinding value for their design dollar? If pas- sengers are constantly lost or confused it is easy to think the existing wayfinding system is bro- ken and should be replaced. It would be easy to recommend a new airport-wide sign system. While this is certainly a valid approach that will likely yield positive results, a total sign replace- ment requires substantial time, effort and resources. Of these three factors, cost typically has the biggest impact and not every airport will have the necessary capital funds to make global changes to their wayfinding system. Is there a better value approach available?
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Signing and Wayfinding Process 11 Evaluating Existing Sign Systems Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport demonstrates how carefully planned design can lead to a successful wayfinding system. The sign system's design was installed in the 1960s, and since that time the airport had added new terminals and extensions. The project manager sought help from Bureau Mijksenaar in 1990 to update and expand the signage. The common question that many airports face is whether to replace the sign system or work with the existing sign system. The firm spent a year taking inventory and finding the existing system's strengths and weaknesses. By keeping the strong points of the existing design, it provided continuity for the pas- sengers. The evaluation of the existing sign system updated the color-coding func- tion, added symbols, and made some terminology changes. This improved the sign system while maintaining the feel of the old one, but with a more sensible approach. Before a decision is finalized, it may make sense to evaluate the existing sign system to separate perception from reality. For wayfinding inside terminal areas, there is a checklist in Section 6.1.1 that outlines step-by-step the key elements to evaluate. Similar checklists can be developed to analyze other airport areas such as roadway, parking, and curbside. The concept behind the value approach is simple: build on what works and fix what does not. Conducting a wayfinding analysis will help evaluate just how extensive the wayfinding problems really are and what level of effort is required to correct them. Evaluate the corrections from a cost perspective. The number one factor is location. If the majority of signs are in the right place and in good condition then it is worth considering a value approach taking advantage of the existing sign infrastructure to save both time and money. After inventorying all of the signs, evaluate the signs by asking the following questions: · Are they in the correct location? · Do they need to be relocated? · Do they need to be removed? · Are any missing and need a new sign added? · Do they need to be revised? Assign a dollar value to each of these above conditions and then compare this cost with a com- prehensive sign replacement. Plans for airport growth and expansion should also be factored in the decision to either replace the signs in the existing areas or perpetuate the existing sign system standards into the new areas of expansion. The goal should strive for the consistent application of the sign standards airport- wide. Too often a new terminal will generate a new look for the wayfinding system, without con- sidering the current wayfinding in the existing airport area. The result conveys an inconsistent visual message to the passenger. 2.2.10 Asset Management Airport operators often view their wayfinding system as consisting only of signs which are installed and subsequently ignored. In reality, an airport rarely operates in a static mode. Subse- quently a frequently overlooked aspect of information systems is asset management. Implementing
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12 Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside a comprehensive wayfinding program is a substantial investment, so an airport needs a strat- egy to protect their investment because new services and tenants are always coming and going. The goal of an asset management plan is to perpetuate the integrity of the wayfinding system. If the wayfinding system is not updated, it becomes an obstruction to passengers trying to find their way because the inconsistencies will make all information elements suspect. More often than not, a comprehensive wayfinding overhaul is the result of years of neglect. Along the same lines, when changes are made, they should conform to the design standards set forth in the existing system. If the existing system is being replaced, it should be taken out entirely. Different types of signs confuse users who are unsure of why there are two systems, if each style has a specific purpose, or if one type of sign is wrong. 126.96.36.199 Information Database The number of signs at a medium-sized airport can easily reach into the thousands. In order to keep up with this amount of information, an organized and logical database system is required. Some airports maintain and service their sign needs in-house. Other airports contract out-of- house. At very large airports it can even be a combination of both. Regardless of the approach, the airport must assign ownership of maintaining an accurate database. It is the key to successfully perpetuating the integrity of the wayfinding system. 188.8.131.52 Monitoring the Equation Part of maintaining the integrity of the wayfinding system also requires ongoing supervision and monitoring. Utilize periodic surveys to analyze the airport's strengths and weaknesses through the following methods: · Segment by passenger experience, roadway, parking, curbside or terminal. · Segment by demographics (e.g., age or gender). · Conduct specific surveys about problem locations. · Use employee observations and feedback from volunteers. · Ask business partners for feedback. 2.2.11 Future Considerations The physical component of a wayfinding system does have a lifespan. Exterior applications that are subject to the sun and weather will require more maintenance and ultimately need to be replaced sooner than the interior wayfinding applications. Because the sign component of the wayfinding system is a capital investment, airports need to evaluate their sign systems and plan their budget accordingly. 2.2.12 Temporary Signs Airports that are undergoing a construction project will require temporary signs at some point during the process. The primary goal for temporary signs is to maintain the credibility of the wayfinding system. The points to keep in mind for temporary signs in addition to the existing signs are the following: · Use the same design standards as the permanent signs to maintain a consistent image for the airport. · Understand the temporary signs may need to be larger and more visible to compensate for the disruption.