How to Help Visitors Find Their Way
I’m directionally challenged (that’s a polite way of saying I could get lost in my own hometown…and actually have). Imagine if I visited your church?!
Would I know where to park, where the main entrance is located, where to go for the worship service, and other important details? I’d probably do what most visitors do and follow the crowd. After all, most people are likely headed to the worship service so that’s not a bad strategy. However, in addition to friendly greeters to help those who look a little lost, there’s another way to help visitors find what they’re looking for.
I spoke recently with Michael Sawyer from 3:5-6 Maps about how they help churches by creating wayfinding maps. Here’s our conversation:
What is church wayfinding and how does it help visitors?
Wayfinding is really just Google Maps on a small scale. You can find anyplace in the world on Google Maps, but once you get there you still need to find the room you’re looking for in a building. A wayfinding map orients people from where they are to where they want to go.
What are some of the top uses for the maps your company creates?
Churches use our maps for a variety of purposes:
- To help guide people visiting the church campus when they wouldn’t normally have greeters ready to assist. For example, greeters aren’t always there during the week to guide people from main entrances to a food pantry or where other specialty areas are located. If people are there for a conference, they may not know where anything is located. A wayfinding map helps visitors find what they’re looking for.
- To help potential first-time guests. A lot of potential visitors will look at church’s website and try to decide if this place feels welcoming to them. If they see a floor map that shows what entrance to use, where to check-in their kids, etc. that increases their comfort level before they even decide to visit.
- To guide people in case of an emergency. It’s helpful to have maps to share with local first responders so they know how to find specific rooms. Wayfinding maps are useful for posting for evacuation procedures.
People are more digitally oriented nowadays. They function through their mobile devices. Wayfinding can be placed on a church website so a potential visitor can be in the parking lot at your church and see which entrance to go to. When they see a church is comfortable with technology, they see you communicating in their language. If you have an interactive map on your website, attendees can quickly see where each room is located. We can program into the map to show which entrance to use based on what they’re trying to find and will show a red line on the map to indicate the exact path from that entrance to the room they’re trying to get reach.
How can these maps help with security and emergency preparedness for churches?
We recently did a project in Missouri and the church requested floor maps plus fire evacuation maps. This project included a series of fire evacuation maps that included tornado shelter areas. In addition, we created “you are here” maps to post on the website or use for digital boards.
One concern we hear is putting information regarding where childcare is located on a map. While you want parents to easily locate that area, you don’t want people who may intend to do harm to find children quickly. One way to address this concern is to leave that label off of maps posted onto the church website. You could have childcare labeled on a printed version or on a digital board inside the main entrance.
How long does it take to create these maps?
Most projects take about 3-4 months, depending on the campus size.
What does this cost?
While it certainly varies by project, it’s likely less expensive than you might think (definitely less than a new sound system, for example).
Where could a church leader learn more about what you do?
Thank you Michael for taking the time to chat with me!