Campaign Planning

Step 1 Select a planning approach

Now that you’ve laid the foundation for your campaign, you’re ready to plan where your signs will go, and what they will point to.

The best way to do this is to hold a planning session that brings in folks beyond the core project team: including more stakeholders now helps raise enthusiasm for (and ownership of) the final campaign! We’ve created a meeting kit, outlining what we’ve found to be best practices an effective planning session. You may want to organize more than one session, to accommodate the schedules of as many stakeholders as possible.

Depending on available time / resources, there are a few other approaches to gathering origin and destination recommendations that you can try, instead of or in addition to planning meetings:

  • Surveying: Free tools like Google Forms (video), Survey Monkey (video), and Typeform (video) make it simple to solicit input via e-mail or social media, just by sharing a link. These can be sent out through neighborhood listservs and online groups, in campaign areas with a strong online presence.
  • On-street conversations: If your campaign area is a commercial district, it might make sense to “table” in a highly visible spot to the side of the sidewalk at a busy time, with a large map / blank surface and writing materials for passers-by to mark their suggestions for sign locations and destinations.
  • Existing events / meetings: Similar to on-street conversations, you can work with already planned events and meetings to “table” before or after – or, you can work with the organizers to add a shorter planning session into their event’s schedule. This approach is especially effective as part of longer-term planning processes: for example, you can set up at meetings for pedestrian plans or corridor studies in your campaign area.
  • Mental mapping: A useful exercise either on the street or in a meeting, getting folks to produce a rough map of the campaign area from memory can both provide origin / destination suggestions, and present new opportunities for future projects. The richer the information participants can share — including any anecdotes or drawings included on the map — the better! This can also produce great visuals for sharing at future events and on social media.

No matter how you solicit information, have a structured plan for what you’ll be asking that will take no more than five to ten minutes to complete. Be sure to include an explanation of the campaign, and how / why your participants’ input matters!

Campaign Design Approaches

We recommend choosing from one of the following three types of sign placement to organize your origin selections:

  • Grid/block: Place signs at key intersections from block to block within a your walkshed.
  • Corridor/main street: Place signs at key intersections along a segment of street (typically no longer than a mile).
  • Circuit/tour: Form a continuous path using signs at intersections along a pre-planned route.

Step 2 Choose origins

Whichever approach you choose, two questions guide your WYC campaign planning: where are your signs pointing to... and where are they pointing from?

We install WYC signs at intersections, because these are transition points where folks make decisions about where to head next. When developing a campaign, we think of intersections that can “add up”: your goal is to show connections that encourage people to walk their city.

We suggest a campaign size of 8 to 12 intersections. To identify good installation locations, ask:

  • Where are most people concentrated in this walkshed?
  • Where are they coming from, and where are they headed?
  • What are the main sources of traffic on foot: parking areas, universities, transit centers?

There are several additional terms we use to spur reflection, and to create a common language for brainstorming (these are also referenced in the Meeting Kit, with representative symbols for map-marking):

  • Anchors: These are significant destinations and landmarks that generate foot traffic, such as transit hubs or key institutions like universities and hospitals.
  • Decision points: As the name suggests, decision points are where folks on foot pause and make choices about where to go next — for example, major / central intersections, or when leaving anchors.
  • Encouragement: If you’re looking to activate a specific corridor in your campaign area, you may have to address points along the corridor that have less foot traffic or are less visually appealing. Here, pedestrians may need to be reminded that there are interesting, useful destinations ahead!
  • Connectors: These are key corridors; they may be well-used or underused by pedestrians, but they often form the spine of your campaign area (or provide a connection to another district).
  • Bright spots: Locations that attract a lot of people and activity may also be anchors or decision points. They can also be smaller or more specialized (relative to anchors), like museums, parks, or stadiums.

As you and your fellow planners develop a list of potential origins, it’s helpful to jot down your rationales for their inclusion — why did you think of them? Which term(s) above are they linked to?

Once you’ve developed a list of potential origin points, you’ll want to revisit and prioritize with your fellow planners: some origins may merit more signage than others, or perhaps certain listed options don’t offer accessible spots for signs (or pedestrians).

Step 3 Choose destinations

Once you’ve determined where you want to catch people and address them with WYC signage, start identifying a diverse set of useful, interesting destinations!

We look for a balanced mix of recognized landmarks, neighborhood gems, and basic services residents might visit daily; recommended destinations will be publicly accessible during normal business hours.

A typical campaign of 8 to 12 intersections will include 2 to 4 signs per interction, leading people to 10 to 15 destinations, each within a mile of at least one origin point. When brainstorming destination options, some helpful questions to ask are:

  • Where did you go yesterday: by foot, bike, transit, or car?
  • Where do you go most often, or most enjoy going?
  • Where do your fellow stakeholders (neighbors, friends) visit regularly? Where would you recommend other folks know about if they moved to your neighborhood?

A few of the terms that we’ve developed for planning are useful when brainstorming both origins and destinations (reference the Meeting Kit for symbols):

  • Anchors: These are significant destinations and landmarks that generate foot traffic, such as transit hubs or key institutions like universities and hospitals.
  • Connectors: These are key corridors; they may be well-used or underused by pedestrians, but they often form the spine of your campaign area (or provide a connection to another district).
  • Bright spots: Locations that attract a lot of people and activity may also be anchors or decision points. They can also be smaller or more specialized (relative to anchors), like museums, parks, or stadiums.

Again, keep notes as you brainstorm on why these destinations merit a spot in your campaign. This is also a good time to think about how you’d like to refer to your destinations on the signs. We suggest developing names that are experiential descriptions, and avoiding any commercial names: for example, “grab a cup of coffee” or “snack on something sweet” instead of a bakery’s name. Keeping destination titles colloquial ensures that they are accessible for more folks.

As you and your fellow planners develop a list of potential origins, it’s helpful to jot down your rationales for their inclusion — why did you think of them? Which term(s) above are they linked to?

Before moving on to route creation, look back over your list with your planning team and create a prioritization or ranking system, as you did with origins.

Step 4 Create routes

Now that you have your full lists of origins and destinations, you’re ready to connect the two to create routes for your campaign!

You should plan for a concentration of signs at each origin point: about four to six signs per intersection, with one to two signs at each corner. Having this amount ensures your signs will stand out and get attention without overwhelming passers-by.

Guidelines for planning routes

  • Avoid routes longer than twenty minutes (roughly one mile) on foot, or thirty minutes (three miles) via bike. (For the time estimates on our signs, we use an average speed of 3 miles per hour on foot, and 10 miles per hour on bike.)
  • Vary the distances of destinations from a given origin — 5, 10, 15 minutes — to accommodate different pedestrians’ abilities and interests.
  • Likewise, include a variety of destination types at each intersection: parks, commercial locations, civic institutions, and leisure / amusement spots.
  • Review the campaign area: are there stretches without sidewalks, bike lanes, or where it’s otherwise dangerous to be a non-driver? Take these into account when pairing up origins and destinations.
  • For ease of use, we recommend minimizing turns in routes from sign to destination; if turns are necessary, use signs to indicate turns along the way.
  • Perhaps most critically — but also most subjectively — we find it helpful to think about who will see the signs at each origin point, and where they might be interested in travelling. (With that in mind, we also suggest placing signs as pedestrians approach crosswalks, so that they can read the sign at this decision point — while they’re still safely on the sidewalk.)

We find that creating routes is also much easier with all of your origins and destinations plotted onto a map! You could do this manually – perhaps with a spare large-format printed map from your planning meeting – or use tools like My Maps from Google.

Placing your signs

  1. Signs should face the pedestrian before they cross the intersection.
  2. Plan for one to two signs at each at each point and four to six signs per intersection.
  3. You can stack two signs to direct walkers in multiple directions.
  4. If no infrastructure is available at the corner, use the nearest you can find.

A model campaign

Step 5 Review + organize sign information

Before you create, print, and otherwise commit to the set of signs you’ve developed, take a moment to review:

  • Have you planned for 30 to 50 signs, across 8 to 12 intersections, with (roughly) 10 to 15 possible destinations included?
  • Have you drafted titles for those signs that adhere to any standards you co-developed with your team and municipal staff?
  • Does all of this information accurately reflect the feedback of as many stakeholders as possible?
  • If possible / appropriate, have you shared this collected information with the community to get a final round of feedback, pre-printing? If so, have you taken this feedback into account?

If you can answer “yes!” to all of those questions, you’re ready to create your signs. Use this form to help you organize the information you’ve gathered into a Campaign Builder-ready document.