Frankfurt Airport is criss-crossed by countless passenger transfers, many of which also split up into Schengen and non-Schengen routes. This presents a major challenge when it comes to graphic design for signs. There are signs displaying more than ten alphanumeric gate groups in two or more directions. Here, passengers have to start to read; it is no longer possible to take in all the information on the sign in just a brief glance. Many passengers become frustrated and give up, turning instead to trusted people such as staff.
The goal of our eye-tracking study was to optimize the layout of signs, within the applicable signage rules, to make them as legible and informative as possible. Two possible methods included, firstly, testing the different layouts at selected locations using composite photographs and, secondly, testing simple layouts against white backgrounds. As part of the process, the test subjects were to be asked to find a defined gate and identify the direction in which they needed to go. It would also have been possible to conduct the test on signs in a laboratory (provided that they could be observed from the necessary distances). In this case, only the transparent elements (panes of glass with graphics) would have been switched.
At Frankfurt Airport, passengers find themselves in a complex structure that has evolved over time. This presents particular challenges for the signage itself and the way in which it is used. There are also plenty of advertising messages, shop signs and unfavorable lighting conditions, which can compete with the signage and, in some cases, lead to information overload. This complicates the process of helping passengers and visitors find their way around.
The goal was to use an eye-tracking study to test the extent to which the positioning of the commercial elements and direction signs as well as targeted lighting design and choice of color are capable of improving orientation and drawing attention to the signs. Possible methods include working with composite photographs and testing on monitors in laboratories.