Information Design @ Colonie Center Mall

“Modern life is saturated with complex information and data. For information to have impact, it must be easy to find, simple to use, and instantly understandable. In short, information needs to be designed!”

008-Colonie-Center

After much contemplation, and a bit of responsibility coordination I settled on doing an in depth assessment of information design at Colonie Center Mall located about 10 minutes West of Albany, NY. Opening in 1966, it was the first enclosed shopping mall in New York’s Capital Region, yet it has successfully maintained its image and relevance over the past decades through multiple expansions and updates.

expansion charging

 

One of the things I enjoy most about this mall is its upscale and classy feel or look. From comfortable sitting areas next to warm, peaceful fires to exciting playgrounds for energetic kiddos, one can easily tell that a lot of consideration and care went into the design and layout of the mall so that folks get the best possible experience.

sittingplay

 

As is the case with every mall I’ve ever been in, there is some very useful wayfinding information presented on the mall directory. At this location, a mall patron can locate any store in the mall by searching for mall name or the category/classification of the store. Additionally, they can locate emergency services, restrooms, restaurants and eateries and various other important locations. As you can see below, the directory is also color coded so that you can quickly and easily locate any store.

20141216_163121

 

Besides the directory, the following images help show how wayfinding is being used to help shoppers with orientation and choosing their desired path. The various stores throughout the mall employ different methods to efficiently direct shoppers to their desired destinations. As you can imagine, in a store packed with clothes racks and somewhat ordinary displays, the neon escalator sign shown below really catches passerby’s attention making it quite the effective display.

2014-12-16 19.29.38 2014-12-16 19.28.50 20141216_164512

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an environment that accommodates thousands of visitors a day, it is not surprise that general preventive maintenance might be required.

20141216_163524 2014-12-16 19.24.54

In such cases, it is important for safety (and insurance J) reasons that clear signage is provided so that patrons know to avoid escalators or other equipment that might be out of service. In the pictures above, I don’t think there is any question that these escalators should be avoided!

Finally, I came across some signage that not only provided information, but offered visitors the opportunity to interact with them and discover more information if so desired. Examples like these really nail home the importance of interactivity in successful information design. In the technology age we currently live in, it often is not good enough to just present information, in many cases designers should go the extra mile to elevate the user experience and create a more effective and memorable design. In the pictures below, I want to draw your attention to the small bar codes that can be scanned by your smartphone or tablet device for a deeper dive into the information than the sign provides. In my opinion, there is something about these bar codes that demands more attention from me than I normally would offer; even if the message isn’t all that relevant to me.

20141216_163301 2014-12-16 19.27.26

 

In conclusion, although I share the same sentiments as most men about malls and shopping in general, I think Colonie Center Mall does an excellent job using information design to display information that is both important to the mall and to its patrons. This assignment has truly opened my mind up to the importance of information design. Information by itself is complex and confusing and leaves much to be desired, but if the right tools are used, it can be easily transformed into extremely interesting and helpful displays. What I’ve learned is the sad but true fact is that information design successes will most likely go unnoticed because they work, while failures will probably be heavily noticed and actively complained about!

Works Cited:

Baer, K., & Vacarra, J. (2008). Information design workbook: Graphic approaches, solutions, and inspiration + 30 case studies. Beverly, MA: Rockport.

Jacobson, R. E. (1999). Information design. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

 What is information design | What is information design. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.infodesign.org.uk/What-is-information-design/what-is-information-design

 

 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Information Design @ Colonie Center Mall

  1. Alicia Kurcoba says:

    Tom

    As always – once again I was impressed by your blog post! I have never been to the mall in Albany but for being the first enclosed shopping mall in New York’s Capital Region it is quite impressive! The fireplace is a wonderful concept and one that I honestly have not seen utilized in any other mall that I have been to. I have even been to the Mall of America and maybe I just missed it but there was not a fireplace to be found! When looking at things now you realize just how much thought the people who were designing the area put into what they were trying to accomplish. Why many may have had one focus others, such as in your example, tried to grasp every element into their design. Whether it is to from trying to be aesthetically pleasing to the most human-centered design, one of the most important aspects within a public place will always be way finding and it looks as though the designers managed to grasp all of these concepts. Once again – phenomenal job! Take care and have a wonderful Holiday!

    Alicia Kurcoba

    Like

  2. Alicia Kurcoba says:

    Tom

    As always – once again I was impressed by your blog post! I have never been to the mall in Albany but for being the first enclosed shopping mall in New York’s Capital Region it is quite impressive! The fireplace is a wonderful concept and one that I honestly have not seen utilized in any other mall that I have been to. I have even been to the Mall of America and maybe I just missed it but there was not a fireplace to be found! When looking at things now you really do realize just how much thought the people who were designing the area put into what they were trying to accomplish. Why many may have had one focus others, such as in your example, tried to grasp every element into their design. Whether it is from just being aesthetically pleasing, human-centered design, or ensuring that patrons are able to easily navigate their way through – all of the fundamentals are in place. Once again – phenomenal job! Take care and have a wonderful Holiday!

    Alicia Kurcoba

    Like

  3. I agree that this mall does an excellent job with their information design. Wayfinding there is always quite easy, with one exception…getting out of the movies.

    If you go to the movies at this mall, you would park by the front main entrance and take the escalator to the second floor to purchase your tickets, and then take another elevator from the second floor to the third to watch the movie. This is made clear with signage.

    The flaw comes in after the movie. When the movie lets out, everyone inside attempts to leave the mall, most by heading down to the first floor using the escalator, an obvious choice since they came up via escalator. They then find themselves trapped on the second floor. There is no down escalator from the second floor to the first!

    The mall is designed to keep moviegoers shopping and not heading for the door. However after a nighttime movie, when the mall is closed this is absurd. Moviegoers wander around the escalator looking for another escalator down before giving up and waiting for the elevator which is inevitable full of people who learned this flaw on a previous visit to the mall. Therefore it takes several minutes to get an empty elevator down.

    In a building like this, it was no architectural mistake to not include an escalator down; it was clearly intentional. However, the lack of signage and confusion experienced by every moviegoer is not customer friendly.

    Wayfinding fail.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bev Shaff says:

    Nice job, I am drawn to the nice seating area and fireplace! Malls are a great place to go for information design. (I used to call this part advertising!) Wayfinding, safety, interaction with social media and they are watching our for your children with the advertisement for dental care.

    One stop shopping!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s