Wayfinding: in theory and practice for place, websites and projects

Alastair Somerville
3 min readAug 18, 2022
Four photos of the workshop’s physical content with  the ABCD theory of wayfinding mapped over them

A half day to full day workshop on understanding how humans find their way thru places and information and how design can enhance those experiences practically

Workshop description

Question: how do people find their way thru physical places, websites, virtual places and projects?

This workshop starts by explaining the research and theory behind wayfinding. It uses the ABCD theory that we developed over several years of working in many different projects.

The theory is simple but powerful in terms of providing a clear framework for teams to work on understanding where they are and where they want to go,

Question: what happens when we get lost?

When talking of wayfinding, it is important to understand what happens when people get lost. Knowing how people become misorientated and disorientated and what they do then means you can design to prevent such experiences and to provide aid when it happens.

In virtual places and in projects, it can be difficult to spot when people are lost. This workshop offers ways of spotting that behaviour and recovering control.

Question: how does this work in practice?

This is a practical workshop. Theory provides a foundation and structure for working on actual design problems in physical and digital places and in project kick offs and ongoing management.


Start with Alignment.

4 cards on the table — each with part of the ABCD frameowrk on them

Set boundaries and create a foundational structure for understanding wayfinding in practice.

Same cards but with lines and numbers added to show order and boundaries

Use a worksheet canvas to center upon the actual context and problems.

A full colour worksheet: a canvas usind the four cards to anchor the work to be performed

Divide the canvas into blocks of work to provide direction to the research, design and testing of new ideas.

Canvas split into four A4 papers for work on each element separately

This structure allows the workshop to be used in many contexts and for many different types of participant. The key is to use ABCD theory to enable practical outcomes now and skills that can be used in future projects.


This workshop can be easily added to any conference that wants to explore how wayfinding affects information and design for us all. The themes and ideas can either be kept at a broad level (for mixed audiences) or tightened to specific topics (for specialist audiences).

For in-house training, the workshop can be customised to meet corporate purposes (in terms of strategic or project goals). This means adapting the format to align with existing content, internal language and anticipated needs.


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Originally published at https://acuity.design.



Alastair Somerville

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. www.linkedin.com/in/alastair-somerville-b48b368 Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX