Taxonomy of Wayfinding Experiences

By Yanling Wang.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Wayfinding, “a term introduced to describe the process of reaching a destination, whether in a familiar or unfamiliar environment,” can be viewed as one of the earliest human activities necessary for survival. It is a multidisciplinary study that involves behavioral and cognitive psychology, urban planning, landscape architecture, architecture, interior design, industrial design, graphic design, and more recently, interaction design. In order to create positive user experiences, a study of taxonomy of wayfinding experiences is a necessity. Different strategies are needed to accommodate different user needs. The taxonomy of wayfinding experiences proposed here is developed based on Passini’s model in 1984 and further developed into five categories: in emergency - it’s all about safety; meeting deadline - efficiency as the first priority; reaching destination - effective as the first priority; wandering and exploration - pleasure and enjoyment as the first priority; and happily get lost - it’s all about the experience. The inclusions of encouraging both exploration and becoming lost provide for more complex and interesting approaches to wayfinding. The proposed taxonomy presents five distinctively different facets of wayfinding. However, any given system needs to support multiple categories. Designers should determine a dominant wayfinding experience while simultaneously providing supports for other usages in the creation of positive wayfinding experiences.

Keywords: Wayfinding, Taxonomy, Experience Design, Navigation, Wandering, Exploration

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.83-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.452MB).

Prof. Yanling Wang

Assistant Professor, School of Design, College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Yanling Wang is an Assistant Professor in the School of Design, College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at University of Cincinnati. She has worked professionally as a product designer and a web designer before she joined UC. Her work has been published in professional design journal and she has presented in national conferences. She is also the co-author of the book 100 Product Designers in 100 Years. Her research interests include wayfinding, information visualization, and the integration of product design and interaction design for better user experience.


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