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