When “You are here” isn’t enough

05Jun12

Due to the happy confluence of an exciting new exhibit and a discount on admission, I recently visited a nearby art museum for the first time in years. So much time had passed, in fact, that they constructed an entire new wing, which made an already large campus even more challenging to navigate.

The designers surely anticipated that visitors would be looking for wayfinding maps, and a large set of maps was conveniently mounted on the wall. However, with at least three floors and multiple buildings to cover, the maps were split into several panels. With so much physical space to visually traverse, it took me almost a minute to locate the “You are here” icon — an essential part of any wayfinding experience.

How can a venue cut down the time it takes viewers to locate their current position? For starters, make the “You are here” indicator as large and bold as possible. Then, do something to highlight the map panel where the “You are here” indicator appears. This might mean enlarging the entire panel compared to the other ones, outlining the panel in a highly-visible color, or using any number of other visual mechanisms to draw attention there. In doing so, you’ll enable visitors to quickly pinpoint their current location, thus helping them get where they want to go and making their experience as stress-free as possible.



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