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Wayfinding encompasses all of the ways in which people and animals orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place.

Wayfinding is often used to refer to traditional navigation methods used by indigenous peoples.[citation needed] In more modern times, wayfinding is used in the context of architecture to refer to the user experience of orientation and choosing a path within the built environment, and it also refers to the set of architectural and/or design elements that aid orientation.

Urban planner Kevin A. Lynch coined the term in his 1960 book Image of the City, where he defined wayfinding as “a consistent use and organization of definite sensory cues from the external environment”. In 1984 environmental psychologist Romedi Passini published the full-length "Wayfinding in Architecture" and expanded the concept to include signage and other graphic communication, clues inherent in the building's spatial grammar, logical space planning, audible communication, tactile elements, and provision for special-needs users.

Historically, wayfinding refers to the techniques used by travelers over land and sea to find relatively unmarked and often mislabeled routes. These include but are not limited to dead reckoning, map and compass, astronomical positioning and, more recently, global positioning.[citation needed]

This term is also used in reference to parking management strategies that help drivers find parking garages.

An example of Wayfinding in GIS would be using a routing system in order to get from one lcoation to another. A successful design of a wayfinding GIS system would allow people to (1) determine their starting location; (2) determine their destination; (3) develop a plan to take them from their starting location to their destination; and (4) execute the plan and negotiate any required changes.

See also