Improving Swedish nature reserve visitor maps with focus on relevance and visual communication

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Improving Swedish nature reserve visitor maps with focus on relevance and visual communication

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Publication Bachelor thesis
Title Improving Swedish nature reserve visitor maps with focus on relevance and visual communication
Author(s) Hejdström, Aron
Date 2013
English abstract
At first glance, the image of a map looks familiar to a graphic designer. It comprises colours, shapes and typography. But beyond the graphical surface it hides a complex system of techniques and rules, like the clockwork behind a dial. This thesis tries to approach and improve map production from a starting point in graphic design. By addressing visitor maps for nature reserves it aims to make nature more accessible and appealing to a larger group of people. The main purpose of the thesis is to examine how Swedish nature reserve visitor maps can be improved with focus on relevance for their aims and use and how this is communicated through the visual presentation. A secondary purpose is to examine how to produce such maps in a rational way, using digital geographic information systems (GIS) and adopted working processes. The research was conducted using a combination of traditional methods and techniques combined with research through design activity. Methods and techniques were gathered from ethnography, action-research and usability-research and include literature studies, interviews, questionnaire surveys, participatory observation, action-research protocols, beta-testing and collection of samples. The design activity resulted in both free-standing sketches and map-sketches for the Gotlandic nature reserves Langhammars and Stora Karlsö. Two processes and one descriptive structure were developed and described: a process to adopt visual representations of map-information to its contextual relevance, a process to produce nature reserve visitor maps, and a structure to present practical design work in a scientific context. Results also comprised collected answers, discussions and samples from questionnaire surveys, participatory observation, interviews and general research. The thesis concludes that it is fruitful to consider the visitor map as “a product made for use” and apply a usability-approach as it is rather an example of visual information than visual communication. Close research of both sender and users is also important to be able to select, adapt and fine-tune the information in the map in relation to its aims and use. The digital possibilities that enables GIS to provide easy accessible and accurate data can produce efficient workflows in map design if combined with the graphic designers experience to develop and streamline design processes. The combination of modern technology, practical design work and research is profitable in both an analogue and digital context and makes visitor maps a contemporary and interesting area for both researchers and practitioners.
Publisher Malmö högskola/Kultur och samhälle
Pages 51
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Graphic Design
Nature reserves
Design process
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