Care in labelling ...
It is very important to label landscape features independently of the activities that they may support. A key access ski resort trail for example could in winter support X-Country skiing, fat biking and snowshoeing. Then in summer it may function as a walking route, cycle path and running trail as well as delivering future themed activities such as a heritage trail.
In this context the key function of onsite signage is to provide essential visitor orientation information that labels the resource as “this trail” or “that corner” without allocating a “meaning” to this generic landscape labelling.
People need to be able to follow “Trail A” confidently along its length. How or why they may be doing this can vary. One user may use it as a running path, another as a natural heritage tour.
The point is that attaching an experience set to the landscape - either in terms of its name, or by overlapping multiple trails icons and related signage detracts from the validity of other user experiences.
It also magnifies the problem of introducing future user experiences both in terms of costs and also visual aesthetic as the trail length becomes overloaded with competing message sets.
A welcoming landscape for most users is one with clearly defined markers, or stepping stones, that allow them to move along their path with a sense of reassurance and also progress.
Ideally these places are approached with a sense of arrival / expectation wherein the user has been on the lookout for the landmark and has the confidence that not only does it exist, but that also it will deliver them the brand promise that they have bought into by embarking along the trail.
They become natural points of repose, places to stop and reorient oneself. They also provide the chance to communicate with people in a way that does not exist whilst they are “in transit” along the trail.
Recognising the value of landscape markers to demarcate points of orientation and reassurance across any landscape – be it in the village or out on the trail – opens out some crucial opportunities for the development of a quality suite of nature tourism experiences.
These places can be nurtured as the “trading posts” of the resort setting, the sites where valuable commodities are on offer in an identified, defined location. The issue then becomes how to package and present the commodities on offer at these natural orientation points across the resort.
Location specific content
Defined landscape sites have an essential utility that underpins their value to users and their opportunities for communicating both essential and also “value add” content in the form of interpretive product.
They tell people where they are.
In a complex landscape setting – be it in the village or on the trails – they create a sense of place and identity.
The opportunity they present then relies on our ability to give users content of immediate and direct relevance to their situation.
We know where you are, and now you know where you are. We don’t however necessarily know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there as there are many options open to you to follow from any given site in the landscape.
Hence what we can do is to provide you with access to a choice of crucial user information such as to allow you to easily identify and access the content you require.
It recognises that in a modern digital age, people increasingly expect to access relevant content easily, understand it in their own native language and to select / customise the content they access to meet their needs.