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Wayfinding 101: progressive disclosure

Wayfinding 101: progressive disclosure

This is part of our ongoing Wayfinding 101 series taking a closer look at wayfinding at TransLink, bringing you the ins and outs, and answers to your questions.

Wayfinding signage at Main Street–Science World Station helps customers find the platform they need to be at to catch their train.

In our introductory post for the series, we talked about how wayfinding tools distill complex environments into easily navigable chunks for our customers by providing pertinent information only when needed. This is called progressive disclosure!

For example, if you are on the SkyTrain and planning to transfer to a B-Line bus, our in-car diagrams will show you the transfer stations to the B-Line, using the orange B-Line branding.

To confirm that you are travelling towards the B-Line stop, we use the same orange B-Line branding at all decision points as you exit a station. And you will recognize the B-Line stop as you will see the same branding on the bus stop sign.

“When all of these pieces are planned, designed and implemented correctly, our transit riders can depend on our wayfinding strategy to get them from point A to B, even if they have never taken transit in our region before,” says Jada Stevens, wayfinding specialist and graphic designer at TransLink.

As you can see, wayfinding planning is much more robust than simply dropping signs into a facility!

Our wayfinding team anticipates the different decision points for customers as they navigate through a facility and make sure we have the information they need to make that decision. To do this, transit facilities are split into different zones when planning.

Signage is planned according to the information customers are most likely to need in a given zone.

The different zones used for wayfinding planning!

“We consider what questions a customer might have at each zone as they progress through the facility and that guides our planning,” explains Jada. “For example, we ask ourselves which zone customers will have the question of ‘How much does it cost’, then we plan our wayfinding accordingly.

Let’s take a walk through how wayfinding works in action!

Station entrance

The T marker identifies the transit facility, making it easier to find from a distance, and a transit station entrance sign indicates the name of the facility. There’s also a sign with first and last train information.

Ticket hall

There are three types of maps found in our ticket halls aimed to help customers plan the rest of their trip. One map is for buses connecting to  that station. Another map diagrams points of interest within walking distance from the station. The third map, the Metro Vancouver Transit Map, provides an overview of the entire transit system.

Maps found on Compass Vending Machines assist customers with determining how many zones they need to purchase for their fare.


Once a customer has their fare, they begin to circulate through the station and wayfinding signage is in place to help them find the correct platform to catch their train.

Platform confirmation

At the platform, Passenger Information Displays and Platform Line Diagrams confirms whether a customer is at the correct platform and ensures they board the right train for lines that have multiple terminuses.


In-car information

In-car line diagrams help the customer situate themselves where they are on the system and what services they can connect to at their destination station. Station identifiers visible from inside the SkyTrain vehicle along with onboard announcements help customers figure out what station they’re at.

Arrival station

Station Identifiers and Line Diagrams confirm the station you’re at, and wayfinding signage is in place to help you exit the station. As you progress through the station, exit signage gets more specific.

Onward journey planning

Maps showing Key Regional Connections, buses that depart from that facility, and points of interests within walking distance help customers with journey planning.

Bus transfer

For customers transferring to bus, signage is in place to help them find their bus in the appropriate bay.



The World Cup of Transit Maps, 2018! is hosting a World Cup of Transit Maps, pitting 32 cities from around the world (12 from the Americas, 12 from Europe and eight from Asia) in a straight knock-out tournament!

Since April 4, they’ve been tweeting one matchup each day through @transitmap using the hashtag #wctransitmaps! Each poll will run for 24 hours, after which a winner will be declared.

Our SkyTrain system map is facing off against the Mexico City Metro today (Monday, April 9). Make sure you vote!


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