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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.
Wayfinding is the traditional navigation methods used by indigenous peoples of Polynesia.
In more modern times, wayfinding has been 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. The urban planner Kevin A. Lynch borrowed the term for his 1960 book The Image of the City, where he defined wayfinding as “a consistent use and organization of definite sensory cues from the external environment”. One comprehensive example is the Pittsburgh Wayfinder System.
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.
Architectural (indoor) wayfinding
Indoor wayfinding in modern large public buildings such as hospitals is commonly noted as indoor navigation with indoor maps or building directory. Increasingly common is offering visitors indoor maps for handheld mobile devices and also information kiosk systems.
This term is also used in reference to parking management strategies that help drivers find parking garages.
Wayfinding in Tourism Studies
The term Wayfinding is now used widely in Travel and Tourism literature, but given the multi-disciplinary nature of the topic, it is not a subject which is studied in its own right but often within Geography, Architecture, Art and Design and Tourism studies. Wayfinding is considered by many to be a process of getting between two points in the easiest manner, but wayfinding can also refer for example to 'Recreational wayfinding' which involves navigating a location for pleasure. Many subjects including colour coding and the concept of clustering  impact on this subject area.
- Desire path
- Environmental psychology
- Outdoor education
- Route choice in orienteering
- Space syntax
- Urban planning
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