Sometimes the landscape naturally guides people to the centre of town without any intervention, but most of the time we have to provide helpful cues. Places are complex entities, and wayfinding makes a place legible – turning the phonebook of buildings and streets into a novel varied experiences. It is more than signs and arrows, it is the science and art of helping visitors build and image of place.
We have identified three classes of user who may benefit from wayfinding: local residents, regional residents, and visitors.
Local Residents require little help; they live within the town lines and use its amenities daily. They have a strong image of the place, knowing what destinations exist and how things are connected. Wayfinding provides some benefit to them: it may point out amenities in the town that locals were not aware of, and it may provide reminders of the benefits of the place (e.g. the Art Gallery of NS, the Town Hall, the baseball fields). Wayfinding may have an inspirational benefit for locals, if not a practical one.
Regional Residents live outside of town lines and enter Yarmouth as the hub of South West Nova to shop, dine, or be entertained, to do business or to visit the regional hospital. They may know the town somewhat, but they will not have a strong image of the town and may need help moving around. Wayfinding is practical for regional residents, pointing them to their destination, but also inspirational by letting them know of other experiences that might be available. VISITORS may be coming to Yarmouth for the first time, from Halifax, Maine, or elsewhere. They may be tourists or businesspeople. Unlike the two RESIDENT user classes above, visitors will not have formed an image of Yarmouth; they do not know where streets lead, and will have only a rudimentary knowledge of what destinations exist and how to get to them. Visitors receive the most benefits from wayfinding: they will stay busy, spend money and will be kept comfortable finding their way from place to place. For visitors, wayfinding is both practical and inspirational.
Our approach is a three level system, with visitors welcomed to Yarmouth at the edge of the town, then directed to a small number of themed districts, then once within a district, they will be directed to priority destinations within the district. The four districts are:
- Starrs Road District
- Main Street District
- Heritage Houses District
- Recreation District
- Vehicular Directional Signage
These signs are placed at decision points primarily along the arterial and collector roads within the Town. The focus of vehicular directional system is to lead our visitors towards the destination, and to direct to parking and encourage exploration on foot. The system includes five vehicular directional signs in its sign families:
- District & Destination
- Trail Blazer
- Identification Signage
These signs are used to identify destination and important boundaries. Depending on its location and purpose, they will be positioned in either pedestrian level or vehicular level height. The system included four identification sign types in the identification sign family:
Pedestrian Directional And Regulatory Signage
When the destinations are nearby we want people to explore on foot. Yarmouth is planned with a dense, walkable core, with a third of the town’s population (ca. 2000) living in close proximity to the pedestrian commercial core of Main Street. Hence, pedestrian oriented signage is placed around the Main Street and Historical Houses districts to enhance the walkability of the Town. The system includes four pedestrian directional types in the sign families:
- Bus Schedule
- Pedestrian level map
- Regulatory sign
- Map kiosk
Banners are used for both directional and identification purposes in our wayfinding system. At the Town limits, a set of Town welcome banners greet the visitors to the Town. Similarly, a set of district banners notify the visitors to an approaching designated district. Corridor banners are used to build the Town’s brand awareness and will be placed along important streets like Starrs Road, Main Streets and Water Street. The system includes three banner types in the sign families:
- Town welcome banner (English and French)
- Corridor banner
- District welcome banner
Excerpt Form: Media Town of Yarmouth - Place Branding and Wayfinding Program design document Dec 2015