Where is the train?
Where is the train?

In short, wayfinding for those with no luggage to pick up is quite difficult. We asked a few airport workers as we strolled through the terminal – they all had the same canned response. Clearly, it’s a question they get often.

Next, we imagined having to retrieve our luggage from baggage claim, then find the train. Thank goodness someone had us in mind when they planned the wayfinding:

Okay, I may not know how to use the train yet, but I know which way to go to find it!

Accessing the Train from the Airport: Solutions to Improve Experience

What do you look for when you’re in an unfamiliar environment? Signs that guide you to the right place. Wouldn’t it be great if the train was as easy to find as this elevator?

Now this is hard to miss!

We realize that building services such as elevators, restrooms and information desks have both ubiquity and universal visual iconography. In fact, they’re so iconographic that sometimes a simple image is all that you need to find these services.

But the train is a challenge. People readily recognize train icons – except when they might look like a bus icon, or you’ve just gotten off another train that shuttles passengers between concourse and terminal. In these cases, language becomes even more important. Instead of the small “Transit Center” post, something larger with the words “Trains to city” and “Public busses” would be very clear. In fact, it would behoove RTD to have a small desk near all the other transit options. They might even sell tickets there to avoid congestion at the ticket machines near the platform.  We’ll save that analysis for another day.

The Value of Observational Research

We conducted this informal research with minimal engagement of RTD and airport personnel and fellow travelers – it was 99.9% observational. The insights we derived from our observations came from a research framework we know well and use often. The solutions we derived from those insights are rooted in decades of design and innovation thinking.

Every product and service needs fresh eyes from time to time. When you ride the train regularly, the monitors become white noise. When you ride the train often and know where to go, how to find it, and what it’s called, you don’t notice the lack of signage and the inconsistent terminology used to describe it.

The solutions presented here were generated by looking at just two of the items we noted in our AEIOU Framework. There are undoubtedly more opportunities for innovation and experience improvement in both and ALL the others. We just highlighted two opportunities to show how we work and think.

Contact us if you’d like to learn how observational research and message improvement can help your organization.

PS – we still don’t know what it means when we hear that trains are running 15 minutes late!

We are happy to discuss our research projects with you if you’d like to learn more

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