Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday's signpost

These beautiful and expensive signs in San Diego's Balboa Park fall victim to a common misperception, that north is always up. For you-are-here maps, it doesn't matter where north is. The sign should always be oriented in the same direction you are facing. In this instance, the circled area is the San Diego Zoo, which is behind you when facing this sign. So for visitors, this map is upside down... and very confusing. It's correct on the map on the other side, where the visitor is facing north.

To address this issue without having to have every map be different, you can orient all your you-are-here signs on a north-south axis, and then just have two versions of the map (one with north at the top if they're facing north, one with south at the top if they're facing south). Take the north icon off the maps. Note: if you cannot orient signs in this manner because of environmental factors, then each map needs to be oriented correctly, which might mean the designer has to create several versions, one for each location.

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