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Town of Northam – Pedestrian wayfinding project

In 2018 Wayfound conducted a signage audit of the town of Northam. This included all road signage from the main highway and regional roads leading into Northam, directional signage on all major town circulation routes, roads leading to tourist attractions and service points and existing CBD pedestrian signage. The town of Northam is undergoing major changes with increased resources allocated since it has been designated a Regional Centre. This includes a new hospital, shopping centre and tourism infrastructure. As part of the CBD revitalisation the Shire of Northam wants to improve pedestrian wayfinding for both visitors and locals. To create a great visitor experience, a key element for any destination is ensuring that visitors are able to quickly and easily find their way to where they want to go with minimal stress.

Understanding of Wayfinding

Successful wayfinding is about finding one’s way and relates to how a person orients himself and navigates through an area or place. A wayfinding system is a unified series of related informational, advisory and directional aids to help visitors move about successfully, safely and with confidence.
A good wayfinding system helps to create a positive experience of the place because visitors can find what they are looking for and know how to get there.

The system aims to answer the following basic questions;

  • Where am I?
  • How do I get where I want to go?
  • What is the quickest route? The safest?The most attractive?
  • How long will it take or how far is it?
  • Where can I find amenities I may need or want, such as toilets, places to rest, places to eat, shopping or places of interest?
  • Where can I cross the street safely?
  • Where can I connect to other forms of transport such as trains, buses or taxis?
  • Where can I get help or additional information?

When planning a wayfinding system we carefully consider all of these questions to determine the types of signs to be used, how they will look, the information they will provide and where they will be located.

Good wayfinding is often not noticed. Bad wayfinding is always noticed.

Best practice for pedestrian wayfinding signage design is guided by the need to be coherent, conspicuous, legible and functional. There is always a balance of getting the amount of information right to be helpful and avoid clutter while catering to the needs of a diverse group of users, such as visitors to Northam.