Written by Helen Kim
Finding your way in a new place for the first time can be intimidating and confusing for anyone. But finding your way in a crowd, through a building with minimal signage, narrow, winding corridors, and rooms that are used for multiple purposes at different times, can be especially disorienting; this is easily compounded when clients come with low literacy or English language comprehension skills, and little knowledge of what to expect or where to go to get the services they need.
Glide is a wonderful non-profit in the heart of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, that provides much needed services and programs in Wellness, Growth, Spirit and Leadership to people in the surrounding community and beyond. Clients are referred to Glide through support networks, or may come in on their own. They are often coming in with feelings of anxiety and stress, from difficult situations. They may come for the free meals and needle exchange programs, but can easily miss out on the many other services offered because of the difficulty in discovering what Glide has to offer. New volunteers coming in for the first time can also find it difficult to figure out where to go to get started.
When we came to Glide for our first in-person meeting, we immediately noticed how difficult it was to orient ourselves after entering the bustling lobby. There was a front desk, but no receptionist. We saw offices with sinks and showers that hinted at their original residential purpose, and several floors of long, narrow corridors and rooms with makeshift signage that often had to change according to the time-of-day when it would be used for other purposes. Glide’s programs and the use of this building has grown organically over the years to meet the growing and changing needs of the surrounding community, but the signage and other wayfinding affordances have not kept up.
For this year’s BarnRaise SF, September 9-11, Glide is partnering with Sequence (a kick-ass Design firm specializing in connecting brands, products and people) to improve the newcomers’ welcome experience to Glide community services. Our mission with this project is to find a way to better orient and connect newcomers to Glide with the services they are looking for and to support easier discovery of other services with an improved wayfinding experience.
Sign up by the end-of-day today –before sales close– to use your design superpowers for good. Help create better service experiences with real community impact!