Design and Technology, MFA
Choice of Map and Design Approach
In the redesign of the map, I decided to base my map on the current MTA subway map and fix whatever is not working. I wanted to focus on making the basic information clear in terms of navigation for all users. I did not want to represent on the map the service change, day vs night, the above vs. under ground trains, or the weekend stops. My priorities are to show the information that is always static.
The design of the map is intended to work for tourists, commuters and New Yorkers. If a tourist can find the map to be clear and won’t get lost then a New Yorker will probably find his/her way easily.
The Neighborhood List
The back of the map provides a neighborhood list with all the stations in each neighborhood and with the exact geographic location of each station. When I moved to New York 9 months ago, the main difficulty I had with the subway system is to find the locations of the stations above ground. Friends visiting New York for the first time also expressed the same frustration to me.
Therefore, I decided to include the location of each station on on the back of the map, which also served as a place to include additional information that the user do not need to see at all times [accessible stations, no crossover]. I also included in that list transportation other than the subway (Metro North, LlRR, aiport transportation).
Hierarchy for the map:
1 Title and key
2 The subway lines
3 The stations [location and which line stops at each station]
4 Local stops vs. express stops
5 Rush hours
Hierarchy for the neighborhood list:
2 Stations [name and location]
3 Subway lines
4 Metro North and LlRR
5 Airport transportation
6 No crossover
7 Accessible stations
Geographic vs. Diagrammatic
I think that geography is important in the New York City Subway map because the system is very complex and the user can very easily be lost. I wanted to give the user a sense of geography. The map does not have to show the exact location of the station but the area where it is. The exact geographic location of each station is provided in the neighborhood list.
One of the main difficulties I had with the current MTA subway map is that for some stations it is not clear which train stops at that station. That had a very important impact on my design. I wanted to make it very clear for the user to see which trains stopped at a particular station. I created a system for the connections where all the colors on the trains that stop at that station are represented.
Local vs. Express
I wanted to create a very clear distinction between the local and express stations so I emphasized it in both the icon for each and the typography [roman vs. bold].
I wanted to keep the transfers less important in the hierarchy than the lines and stations.
However, I also wanted them to be very different from the subway lines and I wanted the user to be able to spot them quickly and easily. In the current subway map the symbol for transfer line is also used to indicate the name of the stations and that is very confusing.
The font used is Frutiger. I chose that font because its big counter spaces allow it to remain legible even at a small scale. The smallest type [4.5pt] is used for the station names and the biggest [23pt] for the title.
The color of the Staten Island line was blue. It could be confused with the A E or C lines. I
made it black so that it can easily be distinct.
It was important for me to incorporate the legend in the design especially that not many people tend to read the legend first. I also decided to add some indications for the fares.
I decided to make the rush hour lines thicker than the other lines so that users don’t confuse it for something under construction.
Certain lines on the map are grouped like the 4,5,6. In the current MTA map it is sometimes difficult to follow the line when it splits. Therefore I decided to remind the user by adding the name of the line within the line after the separation.