Wayfinding is an important aspect within large buildings for first-time users to make the navigation process as easy as possible. This wayfinding project was an assignment for my UI/UX class to help us develop our skills regarding what goes into navigation. Our class was split into 4 teams, each team getting a different section of the school. My team was in charge of the first floor of the school.
The objective: To create a navigation system of the first floor for ease of access for first time visitors.
Dissecting The Issue
The current issue faced within the first floor of the NEIT main building is the lack of immediate navigation when not only going up the main staircase but more importantly the secondary, side staircases. The signage is minimal with door numbers in front of each room as well as signs labeling only the north and south wing, not the west. New users can easily get lost and new students might not know exactly where their classes are.
Asking both the students and faculty, the most common issue that the majority had raised was the lack of direction. There wasn’t anything that really told new people where to go and when most of them (according to over 10 of the people interviewed) first had come to the school, they were lost.
Understanding the Departments
The first order of business was to dissect the floor by wings and then by importance within the wings. We created a diamond scheme to adhere to this. The diamonds represent what the most important and least important aspect of each wing will have in the navigation. The top of the diamond is the most important and the bottom is the least.
The top diamond represents the floor center and the north wing. The left diamond represents the west wing. The right diamond represents the south wing.
The decisions to place the sections in the the place of importance that we did was based upon how popular the area or subject matter is within the floor.
Mapping The Floor
Sketching The Solution
Each member of the team was tasked with creating our own versions what what we thought would be the best solution to the problem. To me, I wanted to increase signage, have a navigation map, and I really wanted to solidify areas for each program (like GMW) instead of having them jump as much as they do currently. This will bring more order to the floor as well as hopefully give each section more of a personality based on the area.
With each location on the floor, I wanted to further indicate what room meant what with badges on the door card. These would be displayed with the door number to continue the idea of grounded rooms for different technologies.
The colors used on the badges are the colors of the school. An interesting idea i proposed with this, though, is to reverse the main color (dark blue) with the secondary color (fall gold). It created a nice contrast that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.
Turning The Design Into A Reality
I took what we had come up with and turned them into a reality. The signs are located above each doorway notifying everyone that approaches what is beyond. The stationary kiosk is located directly in front of the top of the staircase. It is the first thing anybody would see coming up. The badges have been integrated into each door card signifying what technology or location.
I took it upon myself to find and show as many of the people interviewed as I could the newly designed wayfinding experience. The reception was very positive with no real criticism against the idea.
The wayfinding experience within NEIT has room for improvement and while they are starting to improve the new user experience, it would be interesting to see something like the idea above implemented.