We had a very general brief from client to re-design navigation experience for 3-level parking they have at the mall. Number of parking places: 800, can be extended to 1000.
We started our work by doing field observations to identify main problems people had while being on parking levels. We also did short interviews with regular mall visitors. Below are the main problems we noticed.
1. People don't know where entrance/exit is
2. People forget where they've left their car
3. People take the wrong direction
Why it happens?
Typographic choices made it hard to read text. Reflective material worsened visibility of signs.
Lack of affordances for finding needed path: mall entrance, route to another level or flow direction.
COMBINATIONS THAT ARE HARD TO REMEMBER
3-digit numbers were used to indicate parking place ID
Step1. Understanding the structure
We came back to parking again with printed maps and went over the space, marking all the flow directions, special places, entrances to mall, etc. It helped to form a structure and understand what kind of signs we would have to create.
Refined level structure
Previous step helped us to form the structure for further visual explorations. Our main goal was to provide different concepts that would help navigate people in a parking lot. I started my work with gathering mood board and collecting different ideas how to help people remember specific information (parking level and place) and direct them. Usually we discussed concept internally, picked the best ones and presented them to clients.
We proposed to use bold signs and clear color scheme supported by different patterns or icons, so that it's easier for people to navigate in a space.
One of concepts
Over multiple iterations, our client decided to use name of big cities for each of the parking level. Initially we had an idea to indicate every row with its own icon. After inner testing we realized that people don't really remember icons when there is big variety of them.
So finally we had one icon for the whole parking level. Also client changed names of the cities, and our final list was London, Paris and New-York.
Step 3. Signs types
Based on gathered information, we've indicated 3 main categories for the signs we would design.
Movement direction, next level, elevators, etc.
Current level, parking number, special zones
No entrance, no smoking, limited access, etc.
For each of the type we indicated their own facet and design. To define how often signs have to appear, we walked and drove through parking lot and marked their placement on the map. Final signs map is below.
For all the facets I've prepared detailed guidelines for both client and production company. To identify all the exact sizes, we printed signs on paper first and tested out different versions.
To solve problem of parking place memorization we created multiple affordances to do it: 1) Name of the level 2) Alternative name and icon (our client had strong opinions to name parking level with name of other cities) 3) Row name 4) Place number
To make entrances visible, we colour coded them with mall's brand color, orange, and used big typography to make it even more noticeable.