My family and I have recently returned from a three week trip through England, France and Wales. It was the plane, train, car, bus and metro experience that meant we spent a lot of time navigating.
The metro and systems did a great job at providing ‘You are Here’ information that once above ground gave us context for getting to our destination.
The road signage, Google directions and local automobile association maps were a completely different story. Cross-referencing between the different navigation tools was confusing, while foliage-covered signs added to the challenge. Add in age-related sight issues, unwritten rules of the road (motorcycles using the centre line as their own lane) and you have the makings of a potentially stressful situation and an unhappy, cranky tourist.
This experience got me thinking that the factors that made navigating the European road system so challenging are often the same ones encountered by those using company information services – the information provided was different depending on the tool I used, signage was geared to a specific audience, age-related factors were not addressed, and the placement of signage was often not easy to find (behind foliage, on buildings, etc.). So, the next time you’re looking at providing information services to internal or external clients, find out more about your audience – look at the demographics, look at previous experience, etc. before designing a solution that is tailored to your perceptions.