Wayfinding Research

2018 SEGD Communication + Place Sandra Gabriele et al

This paper reports on a study consisting of a physical walkthrough and simple tasks performed by users as a way to expose weaknesses in an existing wayfinding system at a university athletic complex

KNOWHERE: Finding Ways to Teach Wayfinding

Samantha Perkins
Miami University (Ohio)

Breadcrumbs. Wayfinding, an amazing tool, deals with providing navigational “breadcrumbs” to travelers, helping them find their way between locations. Speaking the language of space, information, shape, and form, wayfinding addresses the communication of information within the realms of graphic design, architecture and interior design. But sometimes problems in clear communication arise, especially when the behavioral aspects of human navigation are overlooked. Luckily, we can address these issues early... Assuming we rethink the current wayfinding education model, and teach beyond the book.

By considering issues of navigation behavior, we can establish a wayfinding education model that seeks to help explain the how and the why behind navigation, regardless of the ultimate where. But how do we teach behavior and context in the static environment of a standard classroom? KNOWHERE, an immersive education model designed to teach wayfinding in a more hands-on manner, uses graphic design to establish educational events that communicate ideas of design elements in an immersive context and environment. Through the use of exhibit design and mobile studio equipment, the KNOWHERE model pulls students out of their chairs and immerses them in the world of wayfinding in ways that encourage exploration and creative analysis.

Bridging EGD: Introducing Communities to the Potentials of Environmental Graphic Design

Justin Molloy
The University of Oklahoma

This paper discusses the potential for environmental graphic design (EGD) in emergent and small communities where both EGD and the value of design are unknown. When designers arrive in a community for the first time, they tend to notice things other people do not. Things like how information and experiences are integrated into a cityscape or neighborhood, or how a vision of a community shapes the delivery of their identity or message. When I arrived in Oklahoma nearly a year ago, I was told that there were huge opportunities for design to make an impact. Designers in Oklahoma are aware of what could be possible, but “the bridge” to make design a community focus had to date not been completed. Leaders in these communities have not been connected to the full potential that design offers. Without this knowledge base, the users of these communities do not understand what design is. A common misunderstanding that complicates matters is that design is equated as marketing. Design is mistakenly understood as the way to “dress things up” or make something “eye catching.” The incomplete part of “the bridge” is the notion that design can be a transformative mechanism that goes beyond the surface, and has the capacity to change the way we experience our present moment and envision our future.

From Signs to Minds: Wayfinding Design and Mental Maps

Michaela Skiles

When following directional signs through a new area, how much do people actually learn about the environment around them? How could you design directional signs to help people learn more? This study examines how the design of directional signs influences spatial learning, by presenting information in different spatial perspectives.

Three sign types were evaluated: Separate (directional arrows, with roads and towns on different signs), Combined (simple arrow diagrams of the intersection, with roads and towns on one sign), and Cartographic (a highly simplified map). Participants viewed a sequence of signs as if driving through a fictional environment, making turn choices according to assigned goals, and then completed a mapping task. After a second sign viewing, this time without turn decisions, participants repeated the mapping task.

For the first mapping task, participants who viewed the Cartographic signs produced more accurate maps than those viewing the Separate or Combined signs. These results suggest that guide signs with simple maps can help people incidentally learn about the spatial configuration of the environment. There was no significant difference between groups for the second mapping task, which suggests that when people are aware that they will be tested, sign type does not affect how much they can learn.

This study not only has implications for the design of directional signs, but is also an example of linking research in spatial cognition with wayfinding as a design discipline. Carried out as an undergraduate thesis, this study is evidence of an effective interdisciplinary approach to design education.

The Sustainable Challenges and Opportunities in Environmental Graphic Design

College of Design & Innovation
Tongji University

This paper examines the sustainable challenges and opportunities in environmental graphic design through the lens of two projects implemented in Shanghai. The first, a wayfinding program for the Shanghai South Railway Station, is a study in using EGD to support and enhance sustainable behavior. The second, a signage and EGD program for a practice center at Tongji University, demonstrates EGD’s ability to support cultural sustainability, particularly in the use of typography and symbols to connect users and create a unique sense of identity.

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