Tags: wayfinding




Last week, on Richard’s recommendation, Jessica and I went out to eat at relatively new Kemp Town establishment, The Ginger Dog—all in the name of research for Prinicipia Gastronomica of course.

Being relatively new to this neighbourhood, I wanted to make sure we didn’t go astray. I don’t have an iPhone but I do have an iPod Touch so, before leaving the house, I loaded up the map app with walking directions.

The way to The Ginger Dog

Even though I didn’t have 3G, or even WiFi, to help me on my perambulation, the iPod Touch does have triangulation. So every time I checked the map, a blue dot marked my spot. I just had to make sure that the blue dot didn’t stray off the purple line.

On the way back, I opened up the map app again to retrace my steps. This time, the map tiles didn’t load. But my route home was still marked in purple, and the blue dot still showed my position.

That’s when I realised that all the other information on the map—the streets and landmarks—were irrelevant to the task of navigating my way from A to B. All I needed to do was keep the blue dot on the purple line. It’s the minimum information density for wayfinding: the mapping equivalent of a sparkline.

Map sparkline

Wayfinders keepers

Cennydd has written a great article for Johnny Holland magazine called Wayfinding Through Technology—a preview of his EuroIA talk, The Future of Wayfinding. It dovetails nicely with some of the stuff that Adam Greenfield spoke about at dConstruct.

Meanwhile, over on OpenType, there’s an article on Wayfinding observations: Landmarks and cardinal directions. It uses the specific example of navigating Vienna:

The city center was also easy to find and I can easily place it on my cognive map. It’s across the river and Southwest of my hotel.

It’s interesting that the river is mentioned as being particular useful as an orientation point. The new iteration of the London tube map has ditched the Thames, to much dismay.

tube map