The reasons for informed choices

An informed choice in wayfinding system is when someone is told information that allows them to decide what they’ll do next, why and how. An informed choice gives information that is not necessarily just a direction. One of the best examples is the signs in airports which show how long it will take to get to a departure gate. Telling the passengers their gate is, for example, a 45-minute walk away, and they need to be there in 15 minutes’ time, allows them to know that they have around
half an hour spare. That then allows them to decide if they will shop, rest, get something to eat or drink, use the toilet and so on.

The choice of what they do is informed not by the sign, but by the information on the sign.  Another example is in city wayfinding schemes. The Legible London system was born by a need a to reduce the number of passengers using the underground for short journeys. The example used by Transport for London is the route between the two London Underground stations, Leicester Square and Covent Garden. Linked by a road called Long Acre, the two
stations take around 10 minutes to navigate on foot between them.

On the underground, it is just one stop, but involves going into one of the two stations (Covent Garden also has lifts which can create congestion) and navigate to the trains, board a train and so on. Informing those who want to go from one station to the other and of the ways they can do so overground is a key element of keeping crowds moving in what is a very popular part of London. Informed choices, shared via maps on the street , and more latterly by apps, give people the knowledge that walking might be better.

The informed choices you offer your visitors can be on the ticket, an app, the website or in the wayfinding signs and detail at the venue but the thinking behind should come out of having that masterplan approach.

There are clear benefits to making sure you include them in your wayfinding brief and wayfinding masterplan:

1. Bringing increased revenue to different areas of the venue and the venue as a whole
2. Visitors have more than one reason to go somewhere
3. Allowing the user to make their own decision
4. Accessibility requirements can be addressed at the beginning stage of the process
5. Keeping pedestrian traffic away from already crowded public transport systems

Creating informed choices is about the user experience first and foremost, but there are also behind the scenes benefits, too. The knock-on effect in an airport, for example, extends to the gate arrival times, as the flow of people needs to still deliver passengers to the gates – not just on time (and not too late),
but not too early, either.

All the different parts of a space, be that a stadium, tournament, transport hub or stand-alone event such as a festival, need to work in harmony together. Informed choices form the backbone of that ‘skeleton’, with each informed choice making the movement of people smoother and more streamlined.

The impact of an informed choice on your venue is huge – from people making it to an area that might drive revenue (a gift shop, or a food outlet), through to people seeing the most of your event, and therefore being satisfied with their visit. In turn, that increases their use of the venue while they’re visiting and their subsequent enjoyment. The key part of informed choices is about the user – that they can choose where to go and what to do, rather than just being told or directed.

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