What airport wayfinding can teach TC practitioners

If you travel as much as I do, you probably spend many hours every year in airports. Some of that time is needed for ticketing, check-in, getting through security, and finding the correct gate. But often, you are still left with a long, boring waiting time.

Text by Leah Guren


What airport wayfinding can teach TC practitioners

© Nikada/istockphoto.com

Perhaps you read, browse the many shops, try to do some work on your laptop, watch a video, or visit a lounge. I find it difficult to concentrate and am constantly looking for distractions to help me pass the time. And while some airports are better than others, they are still places that most of us endure rather than enjoy.

The solution? Spontaneous usability testing! While people-watching on a recent trip, I started to pay attention to how people interact with airport signage. Have you ever noticed that airports offer an excellent microcosm for studying usability? You may think that airport signage is not applicable to TC practice, but it is actually closely related. Consider:

  • In TC, we talk about signposting, which is about graphic and text elements that allow users to find and identify information (for example, table of contents, index, cross-references, links, headings, icons, ...