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Where is my car? Examining wayfinding behavior in a parking lot

Architectural Signage, Curated Content, Wayfinding

Shopping malls are one of the most ubiquitous spaces of modern capitalist cities. It is calculated that in the United States alone, more than 2,000 shopping malls exist, accounting for nearly 75% of all non-automotive sales in this country.

You’d think that navigating a parking lot doesn’t require an advanced degree, right? And yet many parking areas — whether lots, decks, or garages — lack clearly legible signs, have few entrances to help people orient, and generally complicate a driver’s ability to navigate.

A study of a parking lot owned by one of the latest shopping malls in Santiago, Chile, mapped and analyzed the trajectories of about 500 people. The study concluded that despite their apparent simplicity, parking lots aren’t uncomplicated after all. These complex settings require users to — consciously or not — adopt different strategies to reach their destinations. Having a good signage package in place definitely helps to lower frustration — and endlessly circling drivers.

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