I know, I know it has been way too long since I have posted. Here goes my update:
I have been accepted into the master’s program at Empire State College for Adult Learning. What does this mean to you, the reader? My blog is based on my being a straight A student and passing on papers that I have written. School starts in September and before you know it I will have plenty to post.
I have just completed a book on how to do spiritual card readings for pets using a plain deck of cards. It was just copyrighted and soon will be sent off to a few publishers that I have in mind.
This may sound crazy, so please bear with me. I went to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for my class assignment in signage and wayfinding. I decided to stop by the Administration Department to get approval for photographing their signage. A woman stated I should talk to someone in their Operations Signage Department. Before we parted she remarked that if they were closed that she did not see why I couldn’t take a few pictures of the Hospitals wayfinding signs for my school project. The office was closed. And so I did…sneaking around, clicking when no-one was looking, yet knowing that I was on camera. I felt it was important to explain the photographs you are about to see just in case the Hospital contacts me.
I want to begin this signage/wayfinding assignment with a little background regarding Sarasota Memorial Hospital. I have a long history with this facility as my mother spent way too much time there between, diabetic issues, three heart attacks, a quad by pass (which I stayed with her the entire week sleeping in a chair in her room) and several other physical ailments leading to her stays in the hospital. This in and out went on for twelve years. Mom died four years ago. I worked in the accounting department in 2009 at SMH and was involved in the monthly meetings with the CEO which revolved around the new construction of the building and additional facilities.
Ok, so let’s begin. Signage and wayfinding are visual communications. It is through signage that united wayfinding and identity systems occur. This includes information design for exterior and interior signage through directory maps and signs that are color coded resulting in the user navigating easily through the medical facility.
Requirements for Interactive Indoor Wayfinding System:
1) The signs are easy to see
2) The message is clear
3) Shows “you are here” to the user
4) Allows choices to a destination
5) Depicts a route
6) The process is simple and understandable for various users
The construction has been going on for two years now and this trip was my first time back. Because of the chaos (building and reconstructing) the signage system needed to be clear and simple for all users.
As I pulled up I saw signs everywhere directing visitors. The colors of the signs are symbolic of patriotism red, white and blue. Immediately a user can see clear hierarchies by the use of different fields of color containing different types of content as well as easy to follow directional arrows. (para Chen Design, 91).
I had to park in the parking garage and there was the old signage that I was accustomed to:
As I walked out of the elevator a large yellow number one let me know I was on the first floor. The arrow pointed in the direction to guide me, the user to the main lobby.
The signage and wayfinding system can be seen as it helps the user quickly make the next decision of where to go and how to get there. “Maps and user guides. Fewer than half of all hospitals currently provide basic user guides and maps to aid in wayfinding. However, they can provide valuable assistance to patients and visitors and are fast becoming a necessity…”
A directory and other information maps are available and visible as the user walks through the lobby.
A sitemap is located within the first floor hallway as Baer describes, “…should give a visual outline of all components and informational elements of the project” (64).
The photograph below is the final version of the design in blueprint format that maps out the user experience. It reveals a detailed view of how the content is organized as it incorporates interactivity by being simple and easy to read. The visual information used in wayfinding is seen through maps, symbols and diagrams to guide the user. According to Romedi Passini, “… people need information to make and execute decisions. Therefore, the wayfinding decisions they make determine the content of the required information” (89).
Wayfinding provides direction for people in motion. The principles of wayfinding design are described by the Michigan street wayfinding signs conceptual approach:
1) Design for the first time user.
2) Design to simplify the visual environment (legibility, coherence).
3) Give only the information needed at a given decision point.
4) Integrate design elements.
5) Contribute to a sense of place.
6) Create synergy between destinations.
7) Respond to diverse stakeholders.
8) Design for flexibility and to minimize maintenance costs.
9) Design for adaptability to other media. (2)
The information based exhibits depict quality by organizing the data, showing clarity of the directional data and reducing visual disorder. The displays are clean with plain language. They are detailed to ensure a consistent quality in the sign information design as signage and interactive imagery are intertwined. The quality experience supports the goals of the exhibits and displays by meeting the priority of the target audiences through the mixed media that utilizes and meets the interests of all age groups and cultural backgrounds. The overall purpose includes the objectives relating to the quality and coherence. The quality of contextual information is in simple language regarding its background information. It also reveals continued changes due to the construction.
The new signage at SMH uses an approach known as Progressive Disclosure to engage the audience and make the information meaningful. Progressive Disclosure presents only the information needed to move from one decision point to the next. (para Phil Murphy). Effective stories are told from the moment the user arrives for example, does the user need the lobby to find an elevator or the emergency room to find a loved one? This information engages the audience in the decision process.
The hospital signage is clear and effective as it provides a design framework that establishes consistent aesthetics and quality. The integration of different components begins with the maps, naming, numbering, colors utilized such as the word “Emergency” in red, typography and general organization of the parts of a building which are important organizational aspects of the signage system. Wayfinding is unified as each sign is interrelated to the next and the clarity of purpose is clear in its plain language succeeding in showing complex data in a format which is understandable by various users.
I propose two areas of improvement for my blog. The first improvement is to have a design that adds more information interactive elements. I believe this will enhance the user sensory experience as Nathan Shedroff commented on the discipline, “…the organization and presentation of data – its transformation into valuable, meaningful information” (p. 268). My blog layout needs to be visually appealing therefore sidebars will be only be positioned on the ride side and it is through simple observations of feedback that I concluded two columns are sufficient because anymore could cause information overload in the user. I have created an interactive survey in which I have connected with my audience. It defined my goals and created a message that is conveyed to the user. I have received feedback and will improve this by adding different surveys creating another visual interactive element. Interactivity is giving the audience the ability to control tools, pacing, or content to be productive or creative (p. 283).
The second improvement that I would proceed with is incorporating wayfinding through principles of repetition, patterns and spacial orientation as Romedi Passini remarked, “…spatial orientation, which referred more specifically to an individual’s ability to mentally represent a place” (88). I also believe that by using the tools of color I can establish clear hierarchies that contain different types of content.
The information is effectively designed for the variety in the audience between the various ages, genders and social status. In 2013 the Courtyard Tower will officially open.
What new signage will convey their final message? We will just have to wait and leave it up to the creative designers of the hospital signage department.
Baer, Kim. Information Design Workbook: graphic approaches, solutions, and inspiration + 30 case studies. Beverly: Rockport Publishers, Inc., 2008.
Sense-Making organizes information overload, let’s see what I mean below:
Did you know that change and Sense-Making seem to go hand in hand?
Brenda Devin remarked that it is through sense-making that we combine elements of time, space, and movement that results in a gap (para. 45). Notice the movement of the user as the author commented, “The Sense-Making assumptions are implemented through a core methodological metaphor that pictures the person as moving through time-space, bridging gaps, and moving on” (45).
Sense-making is a tool used to make something sensible. We see designs everyday on cereal boxes,
The designers have researched the audience and their needs and are passing on specific information to the user. According to Brenda Devin, “Information, no matter what it is called – data, knowledge, or fact, song, story or metaphor – has always been designed” (36).
What is information?
1. …describes an ordered reality.
2) …describes and ordered reality but can be “found” only be those with proper observing skills and technologies.
3) …describes an ordered reality that varies across time and space.
4) …describes an ordered reality that varies from culture to culture.
5) …describes an ordered reality that varies from person to person.
6) …is an instrument of power imposed in discourse on those without power.
7) …imposes order on a chaotic reality (37).
It is because of the vast amount of information given and received on a daily basis that there is a need to prevent information overload. This is where sense-making comes into play. By extracting pieces of information that seem relevant according to the context, organization and structure is created. Omitola et al. stated, “Information is being generated at such a prodigious rate that the challenge now is sense-making, how do we curate information, version it, maintain it, index it, search it, query it, retrieve it, and re-use it, thereby helping people discover relevant content.” If you really think about it, sense-making is based on our expectations about people, and what is important to society.