Current Projects Wayfinding and Space Design

Trends in Courthouse Design : a profile of new space designs

The National Center for State Courts has a 2004 article from Don Hardenbergh, president of Courtworks, on Trends in Courthouse Design :: Courthouse Facilities.

In the article, Hardenbergh profiles the move to use the space of courts to make the judicial system more accessible, navigable, and open to the public. It is because of the increasing focus on service design and customer-oriented services.

This means more spacious waiting rooms.

Better public information and signage.

More support for child care and entertaining environments for them.

Concern and protection for victims and witnesses.

More pleasant treatment of juries.

Easier access to information and services.

Interventions to reduce waiting times and lines.

This means more working spaces and areas for pro se litigants, in particular, as well as more working spaces and counters for people who are trying to carry out tasks.


Ideabook Wayfinding and Space Design

Signs that clarify relationship between Advocates and People

One of the needs we uncovered at the Self Help Centers in courts was to make it clear to people that they couldn’t expect full legal representation. The courts wanted to make sure they didn’t expect full confidentiality or an ongoing relationship.

To do this, we propose a poster that could also be replicated as handouts or cards.

It would lay out key points about the relationship in large fonts, with messages in bolds. It would have icons and pictograms to illustrate the points.

Ideabook Wayfinding and Space Design

Welcome to Court! colored, problem-oriented signs

What is it?

Posters and other large-scale signage that can be placed physically throughout and around the court building, and on any web- or mobile-based court technology. It would reach out to people considering using the court by framing the problem in words they understand, using iconography and colors. It would give the person a ‘pathway’ view of what resources are available for their issue-area, and help them understand what applies to them.

How could it be implemented?    

Work with a visual designer to choose the right color scheme, fonts, and icons. Work with a content expert to choose the most important issues, and how people talk about them. Then create outreach signage that features the pathways of these issues, and that presents it in ways that will engage the target audience.

This will likely take several weeks to a month to design, and $1000 to create the signage.

Our design notes

Courts and associated legal actors must implement a coherent, user-centered signage system. It should be with larger fonts, consistent color coding, and use of pictograms. The names should be consistent across all signs, and they should be phrased in terms of the problem or task of the user that they are addressing, rather than the term that the legal system has created for them.

  • Signage review — does it all point to where you want to go
  • Large, colored signs
  • Bigger text, more graphics,  having pictograms to refer to
  • same name across all signs
  • Links of all the different offices and places to these same core problems of the users — clearer delineation of all the services that start with “Family Law”
  • Phrased in terms of users’ problem and their language (not legal categories) —  action oriented tasks rather than ‘insider terms’ for the organization
  • Main other language on the sign too — Spanish in this case