Sunbway

Guerrilla Wayfinding

One of the wisest pieces of design advice I have heard is that user centered design is not about letting the user design the system. It should focus on finding out your user’s pain points and needs and workarounds and preferences. Then have skilled HF and UX designers turn that wealth of information into a design.

My Take

But there are also valid exceptions to this principle, especially when the user is a professional designer. In the cited article here today, the designer rides the Manhattan subway and was not satisfied with the wayfinding signage. As with a lot of transportation signage, it was confusing. So he developed his own. I don’t think he asked permission first, so this is a fun example of guerrilla design.

“The whole idea is to provide information in a very simple way,” says Ryan Murphy, an industrial design student at Rhode Island School of Design. “When Massimo Vignelli designed the subway signs in the 1970s, one of the intentions was that you get the exact information you need when you need it. But if you actually navigate the subway every day in New York, you realize that doesn’t always happen.”

Your Turn

One thought on “Guerrilla Wayfinding”

  1. Nice stuff: Elegant in its simplicity.

    Perhaps it will engender the crowdsourcing of directions. It might be useful to see a sticker-on-the-steps indicating that “this is the way to the Whitney Museum”.

    But, it can also get out of hand. Do the steps become a hodgepodge of blaring advertisements? “Macdonald’s!”, “Have it your way!”, “Bargains galore!”

    What happens when the activist passenger is an intrusive marketer?

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