Western Michigan University
Cloud Gehshan Associates
Western Michigan University was working with the design studio Cloud Gehshan to help with their physical wayfinding strategy, who then came to us to make recommendations about how to better leverage mobile apps to improve the ease with which visitors, students, and faculty navigate the campus.
We began by researching existing conditions and holding stakeholder workshops to hear from staff, students and visitors of the university. It was important to include stakeholders from the beginning, so that they were able to be part of the planning and help frame the problem. We also wanted to build consensus around the idea of a wayfinding app as a solution to some of WMU’s unique problems, like inconsistently and inadequately signposted paths, confusing naming, and a sprawling layout. Off-the-shelf solutions like Google Maps just weren’t going to address these specific needs.
To prove the amorphous nature of the campus, workshop attendees spent much of their time talking about their wayfinding needs as they applied to tangentially related destinations and activities, making it clear that campus life is constantly in context with what’s happening around and off-campus.
Using those findings and an outline of best practices, we provided a detailed strategic document that makes recommendations about why mobile is important, how to build consistency, fixing inconsistent naming, and making parking, transportation, and off-campus information as easy to find as the campus map itself. We also made recommendations on the technical side, discussing various platforms, proposed functionality, and a project plan for moving forward.
After the success of our first app in 2011, AIGA asked us to design and develop an app for their national design conference in Minneapolis in 2013. In the past, AIGA’s conference websites and apps existed as separate products with separate content management systems, making integration more difficult and limiting the app’s usefulness.
We designed a unique interface and simplified the content strategy to maximize screen real estate and focus on easy access to the latest information, including any important updates to venue or events schedule.
With Head, Heart & Hand, we seamlessly integrated the native iOS app with the conference website, allowing AIGA to update content in one CMS while pushing changes directly to the app and the website simultaneously. This system also enabled AIGA to reduce its reliance on print materials, allowing real-time updates to conference details and eliminating the potential for conflicting information between print and online information.
We also developed a custom set of icons and 3D map illustrations to help conference attendees get from venue to venue and enjoy the many sights and attractions of Minneapolis.