Podcast | Information Design and the Map Environment

Podcast Massimo Vignelli + Joel Katz


What you will learn

Walk the world of a visitor environment established by map, and learn how the methodologies of successful maps were developed by a leading modern map designer. This course will also show how leading map designers are redefining the way maps are used in the environment.

Massimo Vignelliand Joel Katz discuss maps and map environments in this podcast. Both designers talk about the importance of designing maps that address the needs of all of their different constituencies—different types of learners and thinkers. These two leaders in the field offer a wealth of knowledge to get you on your way to understanding and being able to effectively create and use maps!

Massimo Vignelli discusses his remake of the New York Subway map. He talks about the evolution and process of designing the map system and the importance of critical editing and extracting only the most important information to make sure the message was clear: how to get from A to B. Vignelli talks about visual and verbal learners—and designing maps and information systems for both. He describes what we are getting right—and wrong—in map systems.

Joel Katz discusses maps oriented to environments and user experience, and his philosophy on maps and cartographic design. He delves into the history of map systems and the way that they have changed over time as we have become more in-tune with wayfinding principles. Katz discusses his work in creating maps that are appropriate to different kinds of movement experiences—pedestrian, straight line, diagrammatic, and geographic. 


  • The evolution of map environments
  • Visual and verbal maps
  • Eliminating geographical distractions in map systems
  • The importance of typeface in maps and map environments
  • The use of color-coding in map environments and in cities
  • Designing maps for different kinds of thinkers
  • The future of map environments
  • Accessibility in map environments
  • Creating maps for different kinds of movement experiences


Questions Answered

  • What did you [incorporate] from the evolution of the proceeding maps into [the] concept of the map you put together and what did you learn from those preceding maps?
  • Do you think that in recent years people have grown more “map-savvy”?
  • A lot of people say that in maps you like to work with very few typefaces—what typefaces do you feel are the most accessible and easiest to read?
  • What about color-coding areas or districts in a city—what is the evidence of this working?
  • Studies show that men and women perceive space, navigate, and read maps differently, particularly in terms of recognizing and using landmarks—have you ever utilized this kind of information?
  • Do you see in the future the use of visors, glasses, or handheld guidance systems inside of systems within map environments?  
  • If a certain percentage of people are color blind, could this cause difficulties with color-coded subway maps?
  • What is the rationale for arrows before vs after information on signs?
  • How do you balance the vehicular and rapid-transit rail/metro experience in integrated maps? 
  • How can maps reconcile different types of movement with the heads-up orientation system? 
  • Why isn't time used as a form of measurement in environments like subways?


Course Materials

  • This course contains 2 podcasts, with 2 accompanying PDF presentations.



  • Approximately 75 minutes




Presented January 29, 2004

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