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How to Improve the Usability of Maps and Plans Through Design

Thursday 10 May 2018

At this month’s SDS seminar we bring you not one but two talks covering the latest university research on the usability of maps and plans. Peter B Lloyd,  from the University of Kent, will talk through the results of his study on the New York City Subway Map, and in particular the impact of colour coding when it comes to navigation. By contrast and focussing on the National Maritime Museum Greenwich, Andrew McIlwraith, from the University of Reading, will discuss the effectiveness of different design approaches in the design of museum guides.

About this event

Peter B Lloyd: Navigational Hazards in the New York Subway
Diagrammatic maps of metro networks have been in use since at least the 1930s, but it is only recently that they have been subject to systematic empirical study of their usability. Designers of these maps have strong intuitions about how the maps should be constructed, and users of the maps have strong feelings about which maps they like, but neither of these methods of evaluation are particularly well correlated with objectively measured usability.

Peter B Lloyd, working with Dr Maxwell J. Roberts, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Essex, and Dr Peter ​Rodgers, in the School of Computing at the University of Kent, conducted a study of journey planning on the New York City subway map. Using 300 volunteers, Peter investigated the effect of the colour-coding scheme on usability, as measured by the number of mistaken routes and the speed of navigation.

Andrew McIlwraith: Better Museum Maps 
Andrew McIlwraith’s research is investigating the effectiveness and appeal of printed museum guide maps. To identify which design approaches and elements best aid wayfinding and facilitate conceptual orientation. He will talk about the research he has undertaken which has included testing prototypes of maps with museum visitors in which he compared two-dimensional floorplan-based maps with three-dimensional isometric maps.

About our speakers

Peter B Lloyd after a career in software development, has embarked on his PhD to follow his interests in the history and design of metro maps. He has published Vignelli: Transit Maps (RIT Press, 2012), the first part of a planned multi-volume history of the New York City subway map. He is registered as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent at Canterbury, with a project entitled The Automated Design of Metro Maps.

Andrew McIlwraith is currently studying for his PhD at the University of Reading’s Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, having completed a Masters degree there in 2013. His first degree was in architecture, but his career has been mostly in journalism. His interest in information design and the presentation of complex information began when he was an editor at Which? magazine in the 1990s.

Book Now to learn about the latest university research on the usability of maps and plans.

This talk is free for SDS members and £25 for non-members.

Members wishing to attend must email to register. Regrettably, on this occasion (because of security at the venue) we will be unable to welcome guests who haven’t pre-booked at least 24 hours ahead of the seminar date.

Please note: This event will be livestreamed and available to SDS members via our SDS Live Facebook account.


Atkins, 26th Floor, Euston Tower, 286 Euston Road, London, NW1 3AT


10 May 2018 18:00

Price : £25.00

Already a member? See details above for booking details.