Influences of different underground station map designs on map-reading and wayfinding

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Map-reading and wayfinding form one continuous and indivisible process; however, numerous studies have only focused on one of the two. This study focused on the relationship between map-reading and wayfinding to understand how map users read and acquire information from maps. Thirty Participants were divided into three groups of ten on Shibuya Station in Tokyo. The first group used mounted maps, the second group used a printed handheld copy of the station map, and the third group used a digital map provided by Ekipedia. All participants were allocated the same starting point and destination, and were required to perform map-reading and wayfinding to the destination as well as fill out an evaluation questionnaire. The results showed that the absolute accuracy scores (AASs) of digital-map users were far lower than those of handheld map users. The number of landmarks mentioned in the route planning of different map types and number of stopping times during the wayfinding process were significantly correlated. Digital-map users had the highest frequency of landmark use and longest map-reading times, but the shortest stopping times when wayfinding. The task results indicated that digital users had the lowest errors among the three groups; however, the evaluation questionnaire suggested that participants considered digital maps to be the least effective. Seemingly easy-to-understand maps might not be reflected in participants’ wayfinding behavior. Overall, this study suggested that only the successful matching of maps with the actual environment can enable successful wayfinding and create useful spatial knowledge.

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The author disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The author expresses his special thanks to the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Republic of China, Taiwan, and Japan - Taiwan Exchange Association for financially supporting this study.

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Correspondence to Meng-Cong Zheng.

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Zheng, M. Influences of different underground station map designs on map-reading and wayfinding. Geoinformatica (2020) doi:10.1007/s10707-020-00396-w

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  • Map design
  • Map-reading
  • Wayfinding
  • Route description