Call 0401 674 158


Interpretive Planning

Develop a structured approach to interpreting the resources and stories for your project through an interpretive plan. Non-personal media is our focus and encompasses interpretive signs, wayfinding information, public art (e.g. sculpture, murals, spray art) displays, posters, websites, interactive multimedia, and QR code based mobile tours that are informative as well as engaging and easy to understand.

We can meet with stakeholders, develop mission statements, determine themes, research content and provide a coherent interpretive plan that guides your project to completion.

Interpretive planning is the initial step in the planning and design process to communicate messages, stories, information and experiences. It is a decision-making process that blends management needs and resource considerations with visitor needs and desires to determine the most effective way to communicate a message to a targeted audience. Wikipedia

Successful interpretive planning involves:

  • developing concise mission statements, goals and objectives
  • identifying audience characteristics
  • clarifying messages using a thematic approach
  • assessing the overall visitor experience

Mission Statement

A mission statement sets out what you do or your purpose. It should not include your goals or your ambitions. It is the essential starting place for interpretive projects and helps maintain focus on the purpose of the project. Goals are often vague and long term and, in general terms, set out ways to work towards your mission. Objectives are very specific strategies and are measurable. The outcome of any interpretive project is a change of behaviour in the visitor and should be measurable. So:

  • decide what you want to accomplish
  • think about how to bring about behavioural change
  • work on how to present your information – output
  • measure your outcomes – change of behaviour.

Identify your audience

Always be aware that your site “users” fall into a number of “types”.

  • experience seekers are curious and might only visit a site to tick it off their “bucket list”
  • explorers want to understand
  • facilitators may be friends, parents or tour leaders and are there to help another person have the experience
  • professionals or hobbyists often volunteer and can become a resource
  • spiritual re-chargers are there for the environment and don’t necessarily engage with any media
  • social groups are being led to the experience

A Thematic Approach

This is the take-home message! It’s the moral of the story or main conclusion a visitor takes away after visiting your interpretive site. We know that most visitors will forget most of the facts presented but they should also be able to draw a conclusion that is meaningful and provoke them to continue to think about the conclusion long after the facts are gone from memory.

Universal Interpretive Themes – What are they?

Did you know?

Visual learning trumps all other forms for sighted people. Hear information and three days later you will remember 10%. See an image and you might recall 65% of the content. To help people learn we have to present information in an organised, relevant and enjoyable way. The Proust Effect is when we use congruent senses to enhance learning. For example, adding music and food to a learning experience might enhance learning by 10 -50% How many of us have had the experience of remembering something due to a related smell? Chunk Theory states that repetition assists memory. George Miller gave us the notion that chunking information in groups of 7 (+ or- 2) helps build memory. Finally:

  • heme the experience
  • armonise impressions with positive cues
  • liminate negative cues
  • ix in memorabilia
  • ngage all five senses

(from ‘The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore)


Interpretation plan, Penders Heritage site

War History Signs, Cowra POW Camp