Let’s talk about wayfinding. First off, what is it? Wayfinding is anything that helps your guests navigate your church facility with confidence and ease. Effective wayfinding is an essential function that needs to be carefully considered when remodeling or building any kind of project, but especially a church.
Wayfinding is a set of tools, usually graphics or architectural design features to help a visitor familiarize themselves with the navigational layout of a church facility. Although wayfinding is informational, it can also be creative. But in a broader context, wayfinding should be considered in architecture, interiors, landscaping, lighting, and, yes, signage and graphics.
Wayfinding Through Design
Of course, wayfinding through use of signage is effective, but theming can be just as effective while also offering a welcome atmosphere. Theming in a children’s wing can show parents where they are going to go first to get their children checked in and they will remember exactly where to pick them up.
If you’re not ready to add in full-scale theming to a children’s wing or hallway, you can always paint a bright coat of paint to an accent wall or add in some colorful temporary graphics until you’re ready for a bigger renovation project.
When doing a new build, consider taking a page out of McDonalds playbook. Use a glass enclosure to show the playground in a children’s wing so that any parent or guardian can see exactly where to go before they even pull in the parking lot. This maximizes not only directing flow of traffic, but also communicates to parents that their children are a priority to the church.
Wayfinding Through Lighting
We tend to avoid places that are poorly lit, even inside a facility. We are wired to subconsciously think that a dark hallway or dimly lit entrance is uninviting and means danger or off limits. Making sure that lightbulbs are promptly replaced and adding in additional lighting where needed, especially to high-traffic areas, can change the entire feel of a facility. This won’t just make the environment more welcoming to members and guests alike, but it also is an easy way to show that the facility is cared for and well-maintained. It communicates that the ministry is thriving!
Wayfinding Through Landscaping
This is a principle that is used frequently at places that have large parking lots, such as sports arenas and amusement parks. To keep people from getting bored or annoyed while walking a longer distance, you put something at intervals to keep the attention of guests and members alike.
This could be anything from a large pot with some flowers or plants in them along the sidewalk, or even an inexpensive teardrop sign that has a welcoming message. You could use slogans such as “We’re glad you’re here!” and “It’s good to see you!” and “Youth building this way!” Anything to catch someone’s eye and keep them engaged will help to guide them in the specific direction you want them to go.
A bonus is that adding something bright, either plants or signage, will liven up the exterior of your facility and catch the attention of people that are used to driving by. It might encourage them to be first-time visitors.
On a more technical note, incorporating exterior lighting into your landscaping to illuminate your building and church sign is also a great way to catch attention, and your facility will stand out to passing traffic even in the evening.
Wayfinding Through Renovation
When preparing for any kind of construction project, facility renovation, or expansion, it’s good to walk through the hallways of your facility and really consider how easy they are for a new visitor to navigate.
Is the layout logical with good flow in high-traffic areas? Can people figure out where to go without assistance? If not, what are some things that can be changed? Could a hallway that’s too small for the Sunday morning crowd be widened to make traffic flow smoother? And don’t forget about parking. Are entrances and exits well-placed and well-marked to avoid traffic jams?
A facility that’s easy to navigate could make the difference when making a first impression on guests and be a key part of their decision in coming back.
Wayfinding for Security
Wayfinding can bring a sense of safety and security for new members trying to find their way in a new facility, especially parents with small children. Brightly colored theming at your children’s check-in tells parents where to go, while also ensuring safety.
Limiting access to your children’s wing via secured check-in will help keep families safe. Making your facility feel welcoming children and youth, as well as safe for families, is vital to growth.
What is an area of your church facility that is challenging or confusing to navigate? What are some ways that pathways can be streamlined, walkways be made clear, or your space opened to make guests feel more at ease?
Don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun. The key to successful wayfinding is making sure both members and guests feel welcome and confident while navigating your church facility.
This article is courtesy of Churches by Daniels, which helps churches achieve their ministry goals with professional construction services. Licensed and bonded nationwide, they specialize in using the cost and time saving method of design build construction to complete renovations, expansions, retrofits, and ground up construction, www.churchesbydaniels.com.