Wayfinding to connect campus sites at University of York

CCD developed a new wayfinding system for The University of York. They had a challenging situation with a large, dispersed campus.

We were tasked with the visual development of the new university brand across the campus signage to be consistent with the new university wayfinding system.

Client: University of York

Location: York

The university is a mixed-use complex totalling more than 400 acres, split into 3 principal campuses. These encompass accommodation and academic facilities for 45,000 students and 3,000 administrative staff. The site includes a commercial science park, retail outlets, restaurants and a flagship Sports Village located on the East campus.

University of York wanted to ensure that the visitor experience on campus was aligned with its brand positioning and future aspirations. To do this, they recognised that a new wayfinding strategy & design was required.

As part of the strategy development, we liaised with the Estates team to develop initial cost plans for the proposed signage.  During the design phase, this cost model was used to examine cost implications of the various design solutions.

Wayfinding strategy for York


We engaged in significant research on the site including talking to a large number of students, staff and other visitors.  This was undertaken through extensive observations of user behaviour followed by interviews and workshops with students, visitors and staff.  User personas were developed to support the design team in testing and evaluating the emerging design.

Our user research gave the University evidence and confidence in the subsequent design solutions.


From our research we developed a strategy based on zoning the campus and providing a clear hierarchy of information covering the various colleges and buildings that make up the university. The research also informed where signage needed to be located to support the main movement of people and the information content at each point.

A key aspect for the University was the accessibility of the scheme. We ran a series of workshops with different users to understand the difficulties and challenges they had in navigating the campus.


Our work has taken the new visual identity for the University and explored how to translate this across the campus.  The result has been a stronger expression of the brand. For example this has also addressed an existing weaknesses in the lack of boundary signage.

The product design solution that we developed included a glass totem design made of removable facets. This allows for cost effective updates as the site develops. Doing this reduces the need to change signs, which would be unsustainable and inefficient. Additionally we have considered the use of renewable materials for the totem structure and wider sign family design.

Designing a new range of perimeter signage has given the University a stronger visual identify in the urban environment. Our design not only allowed for future expansion, but reduced the amount of signage by 50%, saving costs.