Applied information design: Wimbledon

This year I finally decided to go and visit the Wimbledon tournament. Overall, I left that day having the feeling that every single detail has been planned ahead, including the wayfinding system. For those who are not that familiar with this 125-year old tennis tournament, at Wimbledon five major and four junior events are played simultaneously during two weeks (actually junior events start on the first Saturday). The first week is the busiest and matches are held one after the other during each day. 19 courts, the Centre Court, shops and restaurants constitute the massive open area referred as the Grounds. General passes give access to many facilities, including merchandising shops and food, and allow access to unreserved seating and standing on courts 3 to 19.

Wayfinding System  
Information design is pretty much all around the Grounds:

1. Once you get off at Southfields Tube station: Routes to either the Queue (non-ticket holders’) or the ticket holders’ entrances are clearly indicated with signs.
2. Once in the Queue, the Stewards give to each person an ‘admission’ queue card and a little booklet (‘A guide to Queueing’) with the practical information about the tournament, e.g. the Queue code of conduct, map of grounds.
3. Security control and getting the ticket is also well indicated with easy-to-follow steps (similar to passport control at Heathrow airport, but water bottles are allowed!).
4. Once you are in the Grounds the first thing that everyone encounters is the Daily Schedule Board, which shows the order of play on that particular day, including players’ names, court number and results (if the match has finished).

Daily Schedule Board

Daily schedule board showing the order of the matches for Tuesday 26 June

In this board, information is organised by court number in the vertical axis and by match order in the horizontal axis. The interesting characteristic of this board is that information is loaded manually. It did take me a while to find the match I was looking for, but I do want to highlight its functionality and simplicity. Just a few adjustment to improve its legibility and understanding:

  • Add graphic elements to separate matches being played in each court would improve clarity as each row would be distinguished easily.
  • Use a different colour to matches results than that of the one used for players’ names would facilitate distinction between those two types of information (players and results), and thus enhance understanding of the board.

    Rough example of the board with changes in colour and adding graphic elements.

  • Add (potential) starting times to the first match at each court would orientate new comers. Time-slots may not be included in the board as each court has fixed starting times and visitors can access this information in the booklets given with their tickets.  E.g.: ‘On Courts 2-19 play is provisionally scheduled to start at 11.30am for main draw matches (…) and at 11am for junior marches’. ‘On Centre Court play will start at 1pm except on the final two days when play will start at 2pm.’  Nevertheless, it would greatly enrich the information given in the board, if it would be included on it as well.

On the other extreme of the Centre Court and closer to Exit 1, a digital board gives live information about each match which is currently being played. However not all information can be seen at the same time, so you need to wait until the desired match shows up in the screen.

Digital board

Around the Grounds
Walking around the grounds can be a challenge due to the large number of people attending each day and the dimensions of the place. However, courts, facilities and exits are well indicated with signs. Signage totems are located in strategic places indicating directions for courts, facilities, etc. They also show a general map of the grounds with a bigger picture of the space. One key factor which adds clarity to the totems is the correct use of the arrows to indicate locations. In a quite old post, I highlighted the relevance of arrows directionality and their position in wayfinding systems. Although some arrows in this totem are not placed on the same side that they are pointing out, information does flow naturally, as there is a balance hierarchy between textual and iconic elements.

Signage totem

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