This Way - No Way: UX/UI Quickie #1

Jan B Mwesigwa
4 min readFeb 6, 2020

It struck me immediately when I saw it. Something was simply wrong with that red loud-shouting sign in the foyer of the Mercator Sport Plaza in Amsterdam. For those who were looking for Profysio, the arrow said, “this way”, but my guts said, “no way”. Why? Maybe I’m crazy, but maybe others feel so as well.

Let’s elaborate!

The sign says “this way”, but I actually interpret it is as “no way”. Why?

When I started to contemplate deeper on that strange feeling of mine, I realized that the sign actually resembles something I’m quite familiar with. Look, the “no way” traffic sign!

That explains the subconscious reaction making me beware, cautious and simply not wanting to proceed although the sign says “go ahead”. I guess, already the red shouting color does its job.

Well, the board did fulfill one of its duties. It grabbed my attention and made me look closer. I need to say though that it got me interested not as a sportsman but rather a UX designer. I went further elaborating on what it is exactly what the information suggests I have to do. Along the way, I found one more twitch.

Which Way Exactly?

The arrow points to the left, but the destination is above on the first floor. I know, this sounds ridiculous and people probably do eventually figure out they have to take the stairs, but let’s do some user behavior iteration, just for the fun.

I will assume the user reads the board from the top down to the bottom. In that way, he keeps discovering information bit by bit and forms his final action. But what if he did perform an action straight away at every step? Let’s see:

#Start … The user sees “Profysio” and assumes it’s what he is looking for. No action required yet.

#2 Go left… the sign reveals and says clearly “go left and you will find Profysio”. The user goes to the left, past the stairs, only to find out there is no way further and returns in a circle back in front of the board

#3 Take the stairs or lift… Aha! The user takes the stairs up. Bingo!

Both — the “traffic sign” and “direction” issues — fall in the category of internal conflicts happening on a cognitive level. They clash with user’s mental map, or rather something that sits deeply embedded within as a result of living in a certain environment.

My Take

Enough ranting, let’s get constructive. Below is a couple of ideas I played around with in order to come up with a better user-oriented board.

In the first run, I wanted to avoid the “traffic sign” clash and changed the arrow as well as the direction. But hey, if the direction changes, it no longer resembles the “no way” traffic sign, so why not leave the arrow as it is, right? The up-left direction reflects the stairs but I thought that the true direction is simply up on the first floor.

One more thing, the words “trap / lift” could be replaced by an icon. Much quicker. There we go!

My proposal on the board. Have the arrow point up and replace the “trap/lift” words with icons.

Now I’m happy!

I doubt that this modification would rapidly increase Profysio’s profits simply by bringing back clients that gave up after going in circles around the stairs in an attempt to find the office, but let’s not underestimate the subconscious! All the feelings the customer faces along the way affect his/her overall experience. I better have a happy customer arriving into my business than someone who deep in his guts feels that he/she crossed a no way sign.

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Jan B Mwesigwa

Amsterdam based designer. A cheerful fellow that listens to others with heart, innovator, structure nerd, father, partner, skate rider, dancer.