Exploring the Design of Campus Directional Sign through Wayfinding Behavior in Virtual Environment
Authors: Ting Chun Liao, Ching I Chen, Meng-Cong Zheng
Abstract: National Taipei University of Technology (NTUT) is in the center of Taipei City, with three significant entrances and more than 20 buildings. Because of the nearby attractions, such as the Huashan 1914 Creative Park and Jianguo Brewery, and the Red House, a city-designated historical monument on the campus. Visitors are often attracted to the campus. However, the crowded and enclosed building layout makes it difficult for first-year students, foreign guests, and tourists who are unfamiliar with the environment to navigate around the campus.In this study, the campus of NTUT was used as the experimental environment, and the modeling software was used to build the scene model. An interactive interface was created in Unity 3D to allow participants to move around the virtual campus from a first-person perspective to simulate wayfinding. A total of 30 participants conducted the online experiment, using the three entrances of the campus as the starting points to divide into three groups of scenarios. Each set of scenarios contained four tasks, and participants were divided into three groups of 10 to operate two scenarios, each with a total of eight tasks. The evaluation method is as follows: 1) Let participants perform wayfinding tasks, and the researcher observes and records their behavior and thinking aloud during the tasks. 2) After the tasks, a five-point Likert scale questionnaire was used to understand participants’ anxiety levels and evaluate the directional signs. 3) Semi-structured interviews were conducted at the end of all tasks to determine the reasons behind the behavior.The results show that the participants did not quickly enter the trail at the beginning of the experiment unless the directional sign gave clear guidance. They mostly searched for directions on the main wider paths, and we found that participants would expect the directional signs to be consistent. If they did not find the previous target information on the next directional sign, they would go back and forth to confirm the correctness of the information, or they would stop and look around, thinking they had reached their destination. On the other hand, once the participant starts looking at one form of directional sign design, they subconsciously look for the same design, such as the same color or shape. It caused participants easy to ignore the other design form of directional sign. In addition, the arrows of the directional signs should be more unambiguous. For example, when participants found out that the arrow is pointing to the back of the building, they are likely to pause and hesitate. A diagonal arrow can also lead to misunderstanding. When participants became disoriented in finding the exit, they used the strategy of walking around the campus wall to find the exit. The results of this study intend to help understand wayfinding behavior on campus and serve as a reference for the subsequent design of directional signs.
Keywords: Wayfinding, Directional sign, Virtual environment, Campus, Signage design
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