8. The Future: A Digital Work in Progress

Person using her phone to navigate the space
A guest contribution by Patrick Eley and Alan Stevenson.

The smartphone in your pocket or the Sat Nav in your car has replaced the need to unfold those enormous paper sheets of yore. Digital maps have made our world feel smaller and infinitely easier to explore. And yet, they’re far from perfect!

For its one billion users, Google Maps might remove boundaries and compress miles to mere pixels, but it does so at the expense of differentiation and individuality. Every place looks the same. The same typeface, the same colours, the same junctions and turns to every road.

Not to mention, what about the many, many places on the planet where digital mapping isn’t that accurate?

The real world is a confusing and messy place, GPS doesn’t always locate us precisely and figuring out which way we’re facing and whether we’re even going the right way isn’t always obvious. Digital wayfinding is a fantastic innovation that’s constantly evolving for the better, but there’s a benefit to the analogue as well: it can be seen, touched and has an intrinsic relationship to what’s actually in front of us.

We are all for innovation in our field, but our stance remains that we should never 100% untether ourselves from tried and tested analogue wayfinding. You just never know when the system might crash.


Contributed by Patrick Eley and Alan Stevenson from DNCO an introduction to Chapter 8 of their new book Straight Forward: How Wayfinding Works and Why Strategy Matters.

Order your copy here.