Academic Year 2010/11 – Day 3

Today was mostly spent looking over my proposal for the essay, so I thought I would upload what I have thus far:

Debating how the use of certain factors within wayfinding systems can help or hinder the user’s interpretation.

Introduction: Navigation has been a necessary part of human life for thousands of years. How to direct people from one part of a city or country has always been a key problem. However, this issue has never been more prominent than in the late 20th – early 21st Centuries. With ever expanding metropolises and worldwide travel, the need for clear defined navigation has never been greater. Despite wayfinding being one of the most important parts of our modern day society, it is often the most overlooked. Low last minute budgets and little allocated time stretch the designer’s ability to supply high quality products.

­Problem: Every public space in today’s contemporary society has information, mainly in the form of signs, which helps us find where we are, or have to go. Many of these designs are far from being standardised, as highlighted by a study carried out by Applied Information Group (AIG) looking into the wayfinding systems of central London. AIG discovered that there were 32 different styles of navigational sign throughout central London, some of which hadn’t been updated for considerable time.

In this essay I am going to explore the three main factors within a wayfinding system; typography, symbols and colour to see how they can be used and adapted to specific roles, to make interpretation of the systems clear. What is it that defines a high quality and functional navigational system, and which colours, type or symbols work best in certain situations?

David Gibson believes “A successful way-finding design depends on three variables: the nature of the client organisation, the people whom the organisation communicates, and the type of environment in which the system will be installed” [David Gibson] this is all about adapting the resources (as mentioned above) available, to suit the particular purpose. A prime example would be the Children’s Museum of Minnesota, which I will discuss further in my essay.

Purpose of Essay: I believe this essay has two main purposes. Firstly, this is a key and contemporary subject within graphic design to explore and debate, few people have actually taken the time to compile a text which brings together many of the practices involved in this side of design. Due to this it would be an interesting subject to compile and input some of my own primary research. Secondly this is a subject area, which I have quite an interest in, for possible future careers, so enhancing my own knowledge of the information graphics and wayfinding practices can only help. This also links in with my practical project, so they compliment each other quite nicely for a final project.

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