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About the Book

Directional Sense - Front Cover

Were you born with no sense of direction? Does the mere thought of navigating twisting hospital corridors, deciphering cryptic expressway signs, or fumbling with cumbersome maps fill your heart with dread? If so, you need this trusty guidebook, which explains that finding your way around is a learnable skill, not a mysterious instinct you’re doomed to live without.

A lighthearted introduction to the ins and outs of wayfinding, it provides step-by-step guides to following signs, reading maps, recognizing landmarks, using GPS devices, & more. Along with anecdotes describing how everyone gets lost at times, and photos showing how being turned around is not always your fault, Directional Sense offers a wealth of practical advice to help you confidently get from here to there and back!

You’ll learn about:

  • Why you become lost
  • What “wayfinding” means
  • Six key wayfinding skills
  • Wayfinding words & numbers: Recognizing good ones, uncovering meaning, how they can go awry
  • Spatial layouts: Grasping the “big picture”, recognizing patterns, handling tricky layouts
  • Maps: Flexing your mental muscles to make sense of them; types of maps; legends, scale, and other map details; watching out for shortcomings
  • Signs: What makes them useful; the point of arrows, layouts and messages; how to follow them, how signs can fail you
  • Landmarks: Your secret wayfinding weapon, creating your own personal landmarks, using them along with other cues, knowing when not to rely on landmarks
  • Directions: The “N and S” words and why you should understand them; asking, giving, and remembering directions, keeping their limitations in mind
  • Wayfinding technology from GPS to apps: What’s to love, how to avoid the pitfalls
  • Using good directional sense: Developing new attitudes, practicing new skills, paying attention, venturing forth

Lo and behold, we directionally challenged people (and there are many of us) can learn wayfinding skills – with a little practice – and gain more control in unfamiliar places. It’s a big, complex world out there, but this book helps us take heart and find our way through it.

Rebecca Kilgore, jazz vocalist, and frequent traveler

Directional Sense Authors

Directional Sense authors Janet R. Carpman and Myron A. GrantJanet R. Carpman, PhD and Myron A. Grant, MLA are wayfinding consultants who have worked on hundreds of analysis, planning, and design projects in large, complex, public facilities. Believing that designed environments and their wayfinding systems should respond to the needs and preferences of the people who use them, Carpman and Grant have involved thousands of users in their projects over the past 30+ years. They are authors of  two award-winning books, Directional Sense: How to Find Your Way Around and Design that Cares: Planning Health Facilities for Patients and Visitors (Jossey Bass), and partners in Carpman Grant Associates, Wayfinding Consultants, Ann Arbor, MI.




Published by the Institute for Human Centered DesignThe Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD), founded in Boston in 1978 as Adaptive Environments, is an international non-governmental educational organization (NGO) committed to advancing the role of design in expanding opportunity and enhancing experience for people of all ages and abilities through excellence in design. IHCD’s work balances expertise in legally required accessibility with promotion of best practices in human-centered or universal design.