Bad Design: Downtown Calgary tourist map

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Tourist map of downtown CalgaryThis “helpful” map of Downtown Calgary fails on multiple levels:

1) It makes Downtown Calgary look and feel like a boring amusement park designed in 1989. The swooshy, paintbrush-script font, paired with the turquoise/red/yellow colour scheme gives off a distinctly unsophisticated flavour.

2) It is too cluttered to make sense of. While I was taking this photo, I was approached by a couple asking if I knew where “Immigration Canada” was. I said, “Let’s take a look at this map here,” and it took about 3 minutes to find where the Harry Hayes building was on the sign.

Good wayfinding should pay attention to 2 things: recognition & comprehension. As soon as you look at a map, it should be clear what cues you need to look for. For instance, on a good map, within a few seconds, you should “recognize” that the numbers on the map correspond to the numbers on the bottom panel. And then you can look closer: that’s the “comprehension” stage: where you can match the numbers up and figure out where you want to go.

On this map, there are no numbers, no colour-coding, and no legend. The black panel on the bottom is simply a list of buildings that are IN DOWNTOWN CALGARY; it does not tell you where to find them on the map. This photo is too small to see, but every single location marked on this map is written on a 45-degree angle.

Ugh. Unattractive and ineffective. Minus ten points for the Downtown Calgary tourist map.

  • char

    I agree with you completely. Where’s the revised edition of the downtown map?