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Campus wayfinding problems at Glasgow

by Steve Draper, University of Glasgow

A talk to Psychology dept., or is it the Human-Centred Technology Group? in COGS, University of Sussex, 1:30pm Thur 20 Jan 2000 in PEVI-2A1.


A series of studies of how people find their way around the Glasgow University campus illustrate the variety of issues affecting success, and also the benefit of applying many small studies to one problem area.

Subproblems examined include how people find buildings, how they find rooms within buildings, and the redesign of the campus map's indices to support users' tasks better. While some problems have been created by institutional policies such as giving buildings meaningless names (so users must translate "Chemistry department" to "Joseph Black building" to "B4" in order to use the map), others are fundamental to the way people seem to conceptualise urban spaces in terms of landmarks, regions, edges, etc. (entities identified by Lynch in his "The image of the city").

One finding that stands in contrast to both the literature and people's preferences, is that while most prefer a "3D" perspective style map, they succeed better at reaching destinations using a 2D plan style map. It may be that the best maps will turn out to combine elements of each: the general usability of 2D plans with extra pictorial information for the major landmarks, whose recognition seems to be widely used.

A link to some other of my web pages on this topic is: