Best practice for navigationPrint

Site Layout

A well-designed plan is one that helps visitors find their way around the space intuitively, with minimal need for additional signs. Guidelines for layout design can be found in the previous section, but particular attention should be paid to:
  • keeping paths as short and straight as possible,
  • improving visibility around corners,
  • providing adequate lighting for visibility for all hours of the day,
  • avoiding dead-ends and concealed areas.

Parks and sport fields, in particular, can benefit by considering the following layout guidelines:
  • Public facilities, such as toilet blocksdrinking fountains and showers should be located in a place with the most visibility from surrounding streets or buildings.
  • The route to changing rooms should be direct and the entrance points visible and well-lit at night.

Building Facades

The exterior of buildings can be used to help orient people in a neighbourhood. Fewer lost visitors contribute to a safer atmosphere.
  • The façade should articulate the activities happening inside. This will help to guide those searching for a particular destination, as well as potentially drawing in customers for businesses.
  • Retail windows should maintain a balance between business advertising and visual connection to the street – the less obscured it is, the better.
  • If a blank street-facing wall is unavoidable, consider enriching it with public art such as a mural or a green wall. Although it does not contribute to passive surveillance, it helps to enrich the surrounding environment.


Successful navigation design leverages layout and building techniques as much as possible, decreasing the need to rely on signs. This helps to reduce visual clutter and potential confusion. 

However, when used correctly, signs can be an effective tool for both orienting users and setting expectations about activities and behaviour in a space. Not only can they be used to give directions, but they can also communicate local bylaws and regulations. In addition, businesses may use signs as an effective way to advertise and to attract customers. 

When signs are necessary, symbols and text should be easily understandable, with messages phrased in a positive manner. The Auckland Council has signage bylaws that define sign size and placement. More details can be found on the Auckland Council website​.

Design for accessibility

Safe Environments are also the ones that accommodate everyone, including those users with disabilities of special needs. Well-designed access should be planned for use by pedestrians, cyclists, prams, and wheelchairs. Similarly, signage should be clear and legible to include users with mental impairments.

Provide Feedback   Previous Page