Saturday, 5 November 2011

A map that can't convey space related information.. ouch!

I'm always embarassed when looking at the underground maps of Milan hanging inside the trains.

No tourist would be able to tour the city with those maps alone, since they do not represent the real configuration of metro lines in space.

Let's make a quick test: tell me, which line would you take if you want to head south-west, based on this map?

Red line, right?
Pity you would end up being in the north-west part of Milan, instead.

Here's a reconstructed configuration of lines in space, over a map. Take a look!

And that's not an exception: even on single lines representations they got it wrong!
In this one they put east what is west and viceversa..

The sticker in the middle says: "ATTENTION: this map is upside down!"

A shame, isn't it?


  1. ...another thing has always struck me about the long map strips that can be found inside the ATM subway trains, especially those attached above the sliding doors. In 2010 ATM adopted brand new, stylish maps and, in doing so, they got rid of the old ones that depicted a tiny yet useful information: what side's door would open at the next stop. This information was conveyed by small black arrows depicted within the line representing the track of the subway according to a convention that, although could not be said to be straitghforward on the spot, was quite effective; and useful, especially during rush hours where knowing where the doors would open is convenient to push one's way through the crowded coach. At ATM, they probably commissioned the new maps to someone that never took the subway in Milan. Or someone that never found useful this visual clue. In that case, did she ever try to fancy why someone before her put that little information on the maps? Did she ever fancy what those arrows were intended to afford? Who knows if some designer will ever reintroduce them, addressing a real need of subway regulars.

  2. Good spot! :)

    I didn't mention those tiny arrows for very few of the persons I know ever took them into account. Probably because they were not so easy to grasp, so people gave up. :)

    Yet I completely agree with you and I hate that sense of unknown whenever I'm on the underground. Even on carriages with either arrow display hints or voice speaking, I hate the fact I will be aware of which one is the right door only a few moments before reaching my station.
    I miss those arrows.

    A good redesign should aim to include all the useful information or at least to avoid taking out what's already there, with no reason. I think we agree that this was not a good redesign at all.