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CHAPTER 6 Terminal 6.1 Wayfinding Philosophy and Principles An airport should be able to identify wayfinding problems and define what wayfinding success looks like. Philosophically, the goal of an airport's wayfinding system is simple: to help improve the passenger experience. Begin by developing a clear wayfinding strategy (Section 2.3). An airport that creates a positive passenger experience will create a positive impression of their airport. A key principle of any wayfinding strategy is to value it. It is critical to think of your airport's wayfinding system as a building system; just like the HVAC system, the communication system, the electrical system, etc. All of these systems require maintenance and service in order for your air- port to operate efficiently. Your wayfinding system should be treated no differently. This is a very important concept to make part of every airport's culture. In order for the airport's wayfinding to be successful it must be treated as an integral part of the airport's building systems. To develop a wayfinding strategy, apply these key principle concepts by asking: · Continuity--Is your wayfinding system the one common thread that provides continuity in a diverse architectural environment as your passengers navigate from one space to another? · Connectivity--Does your wayfinding system deliver the right message at the right location at the right time? · Consistency--Think of wayfinding as a giant exercise in packaging information that can be clearly communicated to the user. Does your wayfinding system communicate information in a consistent manner throughout the passenger journey? Consistency becomes visible to pas- sengers through the following design elements: Terminology and Message Hierarchy, Visibility and Legibility, Typography and Symbology, Format and Color, and Placement. The wayfinding inside a terminal should not be expected to overcome architectural wayfinding barriers. Solution: Insist that every architectural project be evaluated from a passenger's wayfind- ing perspective and seize opportunities to correct architectural problems whenever possible. Wayfinding information must compete with visual images such as regulatory, advertising, retail concessions, etc. Seldom is all this information implemented as a system. Solution: Develop information zones based on the airport's architecture to avoid competition. To determine how successful an individual airport terminal building is in terms of wayfinding efficiency, it is worth considering measuring the Level of Service achieved for passengers' wayfind- ing experience. The Airports Council International (ACI) and other organizations conduct annual 93
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94 Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside passenger satisfaction surveys that include measures for wayfinding, or an airport can conduct their own survey. 6.1.1 Wayfinding Analysis and Checklist The simplest and most straightforward way to analyze a wayfinding system is to physically conduct a field survey of existing conditions by walking the terminal with floor plans and cam- era in hand. Mark each location on the plan and key them with the photo for easy reference later (Figure 6.1). Information Database Keeping track of this information can quickly become an overwhelming task. Regardless of the airport size taking time to create (and maintain) a computerized database will yield a posi- tive return on the time invested. Plan early and define what information needs to be included. Determine if this information should be part of the airport's database. Each of the items on this checklist is centered on establishing and maintaining a consistent sign system. There are a lot of considerations that go into each of these topics and they are dis- cussed in greater detail in other sections, but here is a quick checklist of things to look for: Terminology--check for consistent wording in all forms of communication such as the following: · Signs, · Directory maps, · Handout maps, · Website maps, and · Various forms of verbal communication such as those provided at Information desks. For an example of inconsistent terminology, the following is a list taken from a field survey at one airport that found six different messages referring to the same destination: · Train, · Transportation, · Train Central City, · Train to Central City, Figure 6.1. Example photo from a typical field survey.
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Terminal 95 · Train to Central City/Terminal A-E, and · Terminals A-E/Train to Central City. For airports that have both mass transit trains as well as an airport train this issue can become even more complex. To resolve the inconsistency the message must be analyzed based on what is trying to be com- municated. There was a reason each one of the six different messages was used and step one is understanding why. Step two is separating the key words from the unnecessary or extraneous words. Step three is looking for any other words not currently used that may help clarify the message. Step four is culling the list into words that are accurate and clearly communicate the information nec- essary for a passenger to make the correct choice. Step five is test the best choice(s) for comprehen- sion. The goal is to use the fewest words possible that clearly communicate the message. Hierarchy. Check for consistent order and placement of messages. Establishing primary messaging versus secondary messaging will help with this task. While this list will vary from one airport to another it is helpful in understanding the concept. Typical primary messages in a terminal are: · Ticketing/Check-in, · Baggage Claim, · Gates, and · Ground Transportation. Typical secondary messages in a terminal are: · Concessions, · Elevators, · Information (Desks or Directories), · Parking, and · Restrooms. Hierarchy also includes prioritizing what information to list at a given decision point in the route. In other words, what is the minimum amount of information necessary to move a passen- ger to the next decision point? The goal is to avoid information overload. A common wayfinding myth is thinking the best way to solve a wayfinding problem is to list every possible destination, but in reality this is rarely the case. Really, the more complex the wayfinding problem, the sim- pler the solution needs to be. (See Section 126.96.36.199 Message Hierarchy for additional details.) Location. The wayfinding signs must be consistently located in the right place with the right message. It is important to think about where passengers are most likely to look for the informa- tion (e.g., they will be looking for baggage claim information as soon as they deplane), and to consider decision points. In addition, it must be remembered that placement affects many things including visibility, legibility, and arrows, but ultimately it impacts a passenger making the cor- rect decision with confidence. Figure 6.2 is a diagram that illustrates this point. Visibility. Can you see the sign from the location passengers are most likely to look for it? Consistent sign placement is important. Same goes for lighting. Check the lighting in both day and night conditions. Another factor that impacts visibility is designating information zones so that advertising and retail signs do not encroach on the wayfinding information. While adver- tising and concessions do generate revenue, passengers will not feel comfortable taking time to shop or read the ads if they are lost or confused and worried about missing their flight. Viewing angles are also an important part of visibility. Avoid exceeding a 10-degree angle from the natural line of vision, particularly in spaces with high ceilings or transition areas that involve changing levels. Check for basic conformance and note any locations that seem problematic.
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96 Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside Never combine two items of routing information on one sign by using a slanted arrow (45 degrees) for continuing straight ahead for a short distance and then turning. In these cases, two signs should be used; one meaning `straight ahead' and the other, at the decision point, for a right or left direction. A similar situation occurs when a directional sign in front of an exit directs users to a destination point that is beyond the actual exit. Source: The Port Authority of NY & NJ Signing and Wayfinding Airport Standards Manual. Figure 6.2. Placement affects many things, but ultimately it impacts a passenger making the correct decision with confidence. These diagrams help illustrate this point. Legibility. There are many factors that impact sign legibility with a litany of studies, charts, and formulas for calculating distance and letter height. For the purpose of this checklist, using 40 feet of viewing distance for every inch of letter height is recommended for the vast majority of pedestrian conditions, (a 3 inch tall letter would be legible from 120 feet). (Reference Section 6.5.3 Typography for additional information about legibility.) Format. Arrows, typography and symbology. Consistent application of the arrow, symbol, and message will help instill passenger confidence in the wayfinding. These applications should be based on a sign grid standard developed to insure proper legibility for each component. Con- sistently following a sign grid with pre-determined sizes for arrows, symbols, and messages will also provide major dividends when making future changes (Figure 6.3). Frequency. What is the right number of signs? Philosophically the fewer signs the better because it helps simplify the wayfinding, reduces visual clutter, and it also helps reduce the cost of the sign system. However, a complex architectural space may require additional signs to com- pensate for lacking an intuitive wayfinding design. Locations that may need additional signs to account for other users include the following: · In the concourse, not just those walking down it, · Coming out of restrooms, · Coming out of a concession area, and · Especially those arriving on a flight that need confirmation of which way to go.
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Terminal 97 Figure 6.3. The above graphic is an example of a typical sign grid study of how different letter heights affect the overall sign grid as the size and proportions change. Note that "Ground Transportation" is used to represent the longest line length. The goal is to be as consistent as possible and still use the same frequency because it is expected, especially for long corridors that may pass through visually busy graphic environments, then fur- ther down are not so busy. If there are no key decision points along a given route, research results indicate that signs should be added to reassure the passenger they are still on the correct path. Consider placing these reassurance signs every 150 to 250 feet39. Mounting height. The airport architecture ultimately dictates the mounting height of the over- head directional signs, so it is important to survey the varying conditions in order to determine a consistent mounting height for these sign types as well as identify exceptions such as low ceilings. Color. If the wayfinding system incorporates color as a wayfinding device then this issue becomes critical to maintaining the integrity. When applied as part of a comprehensive wayfind- ing strategy color coding can be an effective tool to speed up visual search and help passengers locate the specific information they need on the sign. However, the colors used must be limited in
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98 Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside number and visually distinct or this advantage will be lost. Many airports that have grown over the years do not have a consistent application of color in their sign program. Even on a subconscious level inconsistent color application undermines the passenger perception of the wayfinding system and ultimately the airport itself. (Reference Section 6.5.5 on Color for additional details.) Directory maps. Make sure every map is oriented in a "heads up" position to match the posi- tion of the viewer. Any maps that are not properly oriented should be corrected immediately. Continuity and connectivity. In overall terms there should be an effective wayfinding strategy that establishes clear routes throughout the terminal building. Depending on the size and complex- ity of an airport analyzing the continuity and connectivity of the wayfinding can be a very involved process that requires time, effort and a certain level of wayfinding expertise. See Section 2.3 for details of the key concepts. Evaluation. A number of methods can be used to evaluate a wayfinding system. Four approaches are the following: · An ergonomic assessment in which signs representative of the entire signing system are evalu- ated with respect to conspicuity, legibility, information load, comprehension, and placement. · A survey of airport staff to determine most frequently asked questions. · A task analysis involving passengers unfamiliar with the airport who describe their experience as they attempt to navigate along the more important wayfinding chains. · A survey of passengers selected for being unfamiliar with the airport Ergonomic sign assessment. The ergonomic assessment would establish the major wayfind- ing chains and then evaluate signs along the route with respect to the qualities noted. The wayfinding chain concept is introduced in Section 188.8.131.52. Frequently asked questions survey. When passengers experience wayfinding difficulties they are likely to ask airport staff for help. Interviews with staff can be used to identify the most com- mon 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 assisting in the sur- vey), and can tabulate the number of times they are asked various questions 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 account for time of day and the actual date. There is a wealth of knowledge passed along by the traveling public that remains unharnessed because airport workers and personnel either do not know what to do with the information, do not care, or do not feel it is important enough to share. Thus, communicating and educating the personnel and daily users (such as airlines, TSA, concessionaires, etc.) would help in the feedback solicitation process. The reality is these comments that pour in come from a variety of users to a variety of personnel. Depending upon their familiarity with airport planning/design practices these comments may be assigned incorrectly (for example, many complaints at airports are wrongly-associated with airlines), so it is important to gather accurate information. 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 destina- tions 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 confi- dent 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.
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Terminal 99 Recommendations. The above wayfinding evaluations will determine what corrective action(s) may be necessary. The list of corrective actions can be prioritized in one of these several ways: · Cost--Least expensive to most expensive. · Time--Short term solutions versus long term solutions. · Benefit--What changes will yield the biggest improvement to minor improvement. 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. Testing. Establishing a test area can be a very beneficial process to make any final modifica- tions and confirm the proposed corrective actions. Virtually every airport will have different wayfinding issues. The following are suggested steps to follow: · Select a test area that will yield a valid study. · Establish a baseline by surveying the existing wayfinding system in the test area using one of the methods discussed above. Port Columbus International Airport--Pilot Test Project In 2001 Port Columbus International Airport began a test sign survey to help them evaluate proposed changes to their wayfinding system. The test period lasted two months. A passenger survey was administered by the Airport Ambassadors (volun- teers) to 126 respondents over a 5-day period. When the results of the test survey were tabulated, the overall response was very positive and provided the airport the confirmation they needed to implement a $1.8M wayfinding program for the ter- minal, three concourses, and parking garage. The big question is how have the wayfinding changes impacted the passenger wayfinding experience? Since the completion of the new sign system in 2003, the ACI ASQs have shown a continued trend of improved passenger satisfaction with the wayfinding experience at Port Columbus International Airport. This is an impor- tant aspect to view these measures as part of a continuum and not just as a snap- shot in time. Keys to the success of the pilot test project: · Simple and quick survey that measured: Familiarity of the airport. Legibility. Comprehension. Preference and effectiveness of the color coded signs versus the non-color coded signs. · Test known problem area Based on customer complaints · Test signs were digital paper prints Economical Able to make changes on the fly · Approximate cost was $15,000, and the pilot test lasted approximately 2 months
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100 Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside · Develop a plan for the proposed changes and implement. · Administer the same survey. · Evaluate the results and make recommendations. 6.1.2 Architectural Complexity Based on research studies and aviation industry surveys the number one factor that impacts the passenger wayfinding experience is the role of the architectural configuration. As expected the results show that an increase in plan complexity is related to a decrease in wayfinding performance. Despite the use of signs, the plan configuration was found to exert a significant influence on wayfinding performance, because participants with access to signing in the most complex settings still made more wrong turns than those in the simplest settings with no signs. The presence of signs is not always able to compensate for wayfinding problems due to the complexity of the floor plan. However, this is exactly what a sign system in a complex airport environment is expected to do. Therefore, it is imperative that airport planners understand the importance of wayfinding as part of the design process to create more intuitive architectural spaces where passengers know things instinctively. Conversely, wayfinding systems must account for complex architectural spaces in the planning and design process. 184.108.40.206 Linear Wayfinding Designing open spaces that provide visual access to the destination creates the ideal linear wayfinding environment and will typically decrease the dependence on signs. Creating visual access can reduce the number of signs needed. Linear wayfinding describes exactly what it sounds like: the process of connecting point A to point B, origination to destination. 220.127.116.11 Non-Linear Wayfinding Even without the supporting research, it is easy to acknowledge that airports can be very com- plex; both operationally as well as architecturally. When looking for answers to solve complex wayfinding issues, the first challenge is how to physically and visually get your mind around the problem? The answer is it has to start globally. An airport with multiple levels and buildings needs to be viewed in a manner that can tie them all together. Using diagrams like the exploded axonometric view in Figure 6.4 provides an excellent method for understanding and evaluating passenger flow. This type of planning diagram can be used to evaluate linear wayfinding scenar- ios as well as identify and investigate an airport's non-linear wayfinding scenarios that can be dif- ficult to track on a single floor plan. The identification and support of non-linear wayfinding scenarios is difficult. However, the successful resolution of the non-linear scenarios can yield some of the biggest improvements to the passenger wayfinding experience. Examples of non-linear scenarios will vary from one air- port to another and are not easily documented, but the following are several examples to help understand what constitutes a non-linear wayfinding condition. The walk versus ride for connecting flights is one of the more challenging wayfinding scenar- ios to communicate to passengers and requires a global analysis to reach a comprehensive solu- tion. For example: PHL has a Shuttle Bus connection at Gates A1, C16 and F10 which sounds simple but from a passenger's perspective the connections are not actual gates. To complicate the issue there is no information provided to address the walk vs. ride option like there is at Boston Logan (see Figure 6.5). The new McNamara Terminal in Detroit has 78 gates in one long concourse. The plan con- figuration simplifies the general wayfinding with an architectural space with clear visual access. Given these positive attributes, there is the physical challenge of simply walking from one end of