As 2014 comes to an end we look back at how Legible London came to be.
London is a prime world city with 9 million residents and 27 million visitors a year. It’s an old city with many fractured areas, very few long straight roads and a Victorian infrastructure.
A decade ago a team of information designers sat down to think about an open wayfinding brief from an organisation representing the centre of London. The Applied team proposed a new information system for the city based on user-focused principles, an information system that had agreed names for places, how places and routes are described and an agreed way to display information. The system was called Legible London.
The project has since developed into an on-street pedestrian system with around 1,200 signs, a suite of printed tailored walking maps for commuters, businesses, visitors and shoppers, downloadable and digital maps, a number of smartphone apps, integrated public transport information, and has created a walking identity for London.
The Legible London concept represents the most comprehensive approach to implementing a wayfinding system in a global city, it set a global standard for wayfinding. To get such a project through the door the Applied team had many challenges to face, including navigating London’s authorities, people’s understanding of the city, and varying sign systems. Its public interface is much copied but very little of its internal architecture is understood.