Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why the CATBus schedule handout is confusing

The photo shows a detail of the Red Route for the Clemson bus. I added the numbered blue circles to correspond to my comments.

  1. Centering long lines of text makes it hard to read the information. Since we generally read from left to right, our eyes need a visual cue on where to start from the left. Left-aligned text helps create a visual guide for our eyes. Centering the text removes that guide. Also, using ALL CAPS on the text makes it even harder to read the information. In another route, the ALL CAPS font are squeezed into what looks like Arial Narrow -- an even harder font to read especially in cramped spaces.
  2. The guide uses unnecessary effort to explain the regular and variant schedules, causing a lot of repeating information (eg, observe the repeated Mon-Thu info across Fall, Spring, Summer, and Holiday). This could be simplified by just listing the regular service common to all seasons, and then adding the exceptions in a separate section. 
  3. Long lines of text make it hard to follow the timings at the right side of the table. Using alternating row colors can help us read that information more easily.

Below is a snapshot of one page of the whole schedule (taken from the CATBus website). Notice anything?

  1. Too much real estate in the handout is devoted to a map that's not very informative. The most useful sections -- the schedules -- are relegated to about 20% of the paper. 
  2. The dimensions of the guide are not very portable: 28.5" x 22" (72.39 x 55.8 cm). It's almost like a tourist map with confusing folds. The schedules themselves could be printed on a strip of paper that could be folded and fit in a purse or wallet. 
Like I said in a previous post, I appreciate the CATBus service. It's free! But lots more could be done to help visitors and students to use the service.

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See also: The (absence of) bus stops

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