The redesigned map
Here’s the current one:
Note on size
This map is normally displayed on stops and trams at a width of about a metre. The illegibility of the original map on this page isn’t therefore that important but the comparison does demonstrate how much clearer my redesign is. The redesign is also more flexible in that it will work at smaller sizes if necessary. (On a desktop my 936 pixels wide version is actually usable, the original is not).
What’s wrong with the original?
- It looks more complicated than it is.
- It’s not easy to scan.
- The text could be bigger, not only to help those with poor eyesight but to make it easier to read for everybody.
What I did:
Stopped the purple line crossing the blue line
This is pedantic but it was the purple line crossing the blue line that first bothered me about the original. It’s illogical! (Isn’t it?) And it seemed tidier to put the ‘Herdings spur’ (the purple line that sticks out at the bottom of the original) in-between the other two lines.
It’s not that important and I can see why it’s been done: the section where the three lines run alongside each other is neater in the original than my awkward junction. But it does mean that, on the original, the ‘Herdings Spur’ makes the map deeper than it need be and prevents all the blue line stop names from appearing on the same row.
Bent lines only when necessary
I’ve only removed 2 bends on the blue/purple line but this makes a big difference.
The original’s main ‘Y’-shaped split (in the centre) looks neat but bending the lines is one of the reasons why the stop names are all over the place.
Stopped the alternation of stop names above and below the lines
This, along with the unnecessarily bent lines, means that stop names appear in 8 different vertical positions.
This is untidy and reduces scanability. Finding the stops you’re interested in takes your eyeballs for an unnecessary wander. It’s also arbitrary and could confuse: why does West St appear ‘on’ the yellow line and City Hall ‘on’ the blue line?
My solution is not ideal but there’s a logic to it. If you’re on the blue line you can see all your stops on one straight line.
Increased the text size
I wanted to keep the stop names horizontal – they are easier to read – but this severely limits the text size. Diagonally, the text can be more than twice the size of the original. And diagonal is good enough for the Paris Metro. 1
Removed superfluous information from stop names
When I was still thinking of horizontal stop names I tried to make more room by making some shorter. This is not as important for the diagonal names but the more even lengths does make for a tidier map.
Some of the stop names contain more information than necessary. The names of stops are not names of places and it’s not up to Supertram to describe where you can get to from stops e.g. Tinsley / Meadowhall South and The University of Sheffield / West End Hospitals. Is anyone inconvenienced by Tinsley / Meadowhall South being named Tinsley? No.
Removed the icons
They’re a mess. I don’t like them. Are they useful? I kept the parking symbol which does have something to do with the tram system and may help passengers locate stops. I might have been harsh in my icon cull. They should fit back in without much difficulty, if absolutely necessary.
Made the travel times between stops clearer
On the original these have managed to be both intrusive and easily missed. Intrusive because the stop names above the line have to be moved to fit them in. I’ve made them bigger, put them where you can’t miss them and between stops where their purpose should be obvious enough without needing to see the key.
Made the lines you can use from a particular stop more obvious
Something else that people miss: on the maps that appear on tram stops (different to the more general ones that appear on trams), the lines that you can’t travel on from that stop are slightly faded. 2 I’ve made this fade more obvious (the fatter lines make this more obvious too) and also faded the stop names that aren’t on the route to make this apparent without (I hope) having to explain it.
Made the ‘You are here’ indicator more obvious
NOTE: Supertram have used a more compact map with diagonal tram stop labels but I can no longer find it on their website.