Designing Information: Human Factors and Common Sense in Information Design
Chapter 5: Finding your Way? Movement, Orientation, Situational Geography
5 Finding your Way? Movement, Orientation, Situational Geography
What’s Up? Heads up
- Heads-up maps, originally developed for pilots to look up and read maps at the same time, orients maps so that up on the map is forwards from their orientation to the sign
- GM introduced HUDs (heads up displays) in automotives in 1988 and now almost all GPS devices have this option
Signs and Arrows
- Two arrows in way-finding
- literal: point in the actual direction
- literal arrows can have different cultural associations. On a HUD, American “up” arrow means straight ahead, French “down” arrow means straight ahead (as in, go under this sign).
- theoretical: point in direction of something, possibly distant, but do not clue as to how to get there.
scale and adjacency
- While scale and adjacency are preferred constant and mapped naturally, printing concerns or restrictions can take precedent.
a movement network genealogy
- “It is the challenge and responsibility of the information designer to design maps and other navigational aids with an understanding of the different ways in which movement modes are experienced and perceived.”
- Consider your unit of measurement or perception of measurement when abstracting maps for a user/purpose
- While walking, we count cross-streets, or monuments, or addresses; while riding a bus, we count stops; while flying there is only a beginning and ending airport.
map or diagram?
- Mark Noad’s redesign of the London Undergound Map walks the line between a map and a diagram
- It closely relates to the actual space between stops, but simplifies shapes without being geometrically rigid.
- Maps are difficult to memorize, but contain a wealth of information for various users
- Diagrams are easier to memorize and conceptualize, but are sparse in order to help certain users accomplish a certain task.
information release sequence
- changes in mode of transport require user to revisit context
- each modal change sequence is different
- information user needs to attain is in discreet steps, but each step might not be simple/familiar
- releasing information depending on location (inside/outside, above/underground) or status (un/paid) helps discreet steps to be completed in order
- it is a hierarchy that is dependent on time and place
- maps that measure geographic distance as a function of time
- if it takes the same time to get there, it is visually equal.
- takes into account things like: availability of transport, topography, obstacles, etc.
transitions and familiarity
- the transition from a geographically intact pedestrian map to an abstracted subway map can prove difficult
- consider how much geographic accuracy is needed for a map to do its job. Can routes be straight when they are really curved? Can routes be less curved in the diagram than in real life? Small discrepancies will generally go unnoticed by users.
- natural features (river, pond, shore, etc) can help orient users between maps and diagrams
perils of alphabetization
- organizing information: LATCH (Location, Alphabet, Time, Category, Hierarchy)
the view from below or above
- placing pictorial representations of buildings on flat maps could give impressions of the facade’s directionality
- in any one map perspective, at max you can only see 50% of buildings’ facades. Not every building facade will be the iconic, picturesque version of the building.
urban open space
- Roman urban architecture valued the uniform street facade with intricate public spaces interior.
- This is instance, designer Giambasttista Nolli published a map that denotes open street space and open courtyard space of equal hierarchy, to allow pedestrians to understand, when faced with a facade, if there interest behind those walls.