The (in)accessibility of Dean Clough

I live in a small town in 'The North' of England called Halifax, a town which boasts some pretty amazing historical facts. The inventor of 'Cat's Eyes', the little reflective road markers was from here (and is also a distant relative of mine - my great-grandfather's cousin or something) and we had a guillotine here and were chopping heads off long before the French. Those are just a couple I know. It is also well known as an industrial town and played it's own part in the Industrial Revolution.

I work for a web company and our office is part of a large mill just outside of the town centre, named Dean Clough, which consists of six or seven large mills and a couple of small additions packed into an area stretching 2/3 mile. The mills have been converted info office space occupied by various companies as well as housing a few art galleries. There is a constant mix of people coming to work and people coming to look around.

There is a simple one way traffic route through the collection of buildings but I'm still surprised by the amount of times I see visitors getting lost and need help finding their way around. There are maps dotted around the site which are supposed to help visitors figure out where they are but I find them very confusing.

This three dimensional artists impression is great at showing the expanse of the site but I think it fails when it comes to clearly displaying the various roads, buildings, gates and car parks. Our office happens to be quite simple to find, we're in a small building sharing with only one other company but on these maps, shown above, our office is completely lost behind one of the large mills. It's no wonder clients call us saying they're lost.

I really started thinking about writing this a couple of months ago, just before the smoking ban came into effect. As a precaution, Dean Clough admin sent information about the ban which included a map illustrating the areas where smoking will be permitted. The thing is the map is a very simple birdseye view of the site clearly outlining each building, gates, roads and car parks, which I think would be much more effective in aiding lost visitors.

It's not as visually pleasing but it'd do a better job and maybe help increase visitor numbers...