Podcast | Identity and Destination Hierarchy Research

Podcast Tom Esch, Yolanda Partida, and David Middleton


What you will learn

This talk, planned out by Phil Garvey and delivered by Tom Esch,Yolanda Partida, and David Middleton,focuses on destination hierarchies and identity research—one of the main issues faced by environmental graphic designers. The speakers walk through what makes for successful destination hierarchy research and destination naming. A key theme in this podcast is universality—can we achieve it in naming destinations?

Destination naming is a major part of the design process: from healthcare to transportation and beyond, experiential and environmental designers struggle to achieve consistency and universality, and to form coherent naming strategies that keep in mind different considerations such as language and cultural differences. Since this is such a broad and far-reaching topic, the speakers in this talk will be focusing in on a more specific feature—identity and naming research/testing. The speakers examine the challenges in naming and research, especially cultural and political issues in testing, and language and multi-lingual understanding in healthcare, transportation, urban, and campus settings.

While universality may be the goal, it is also important to keep in mind the needs of the individual facility and the people it is meant to serve in order to create systems that actually work in the contexts in which they exist. Design projects should be able to balance the universal and the unique by looking at and reviewing existing destination hierarchy research and then applying that research to a specific project.


  • Destination Hierarchy and Testing
  • Cultural, Political Issues and Testing
  • Language and multi-lingual understanding
  • Testing Case Studies
    • Healthcare
    • Transportation
    • Urban Wayfinding
  • Achieving universality in naming: universal vs. unique names


Questions Answered

  • Could you discuss slide 16 on urban signage legibility in greater detail?
  • Do you know if the researchers looked at stacking versus single line text in that study on legibility in urban signage?


Course Materials

  • This course contains 1 podcast, with 2 accompanying PDF presentations.



  • Approximately 60 minutes




Presented November 24, 2009


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