Though FWT London was only formed in 2017, it nevertheless has a large legacy of experience going back several decades. We are proud to include a few comments below from long term friends of the company.
Customer Information Projects ManagerGovia Thameslink Railway
ChairmanNetwork Rail and London Legacy Development Corporation
I’ve been asked to pass on my thanks to you for turning the map around today. Suffice to say the individuals involved are used to competent and knowledgeable suppliers! I'm off next week. No doubt I’ll speak to you again this week, but I just wanted to thank you so much for your help this year. I really couldn't have asked for more and I look forward to continuing to do so next year.
I like the way this company approaches every job it undertakes. They always want to get to the heart of the matter, and always ask themselves ‘what is the problem for which our product will be the solution?’. So many designers leap in without understanding the end users’ needs; these never do. Thoroughly recommended.
Sir Peter Hendy CBE
Managing Director Surface TransportTransport for London
I was unhappy at the lack of clarity of our bus destination displays. When I spoke to Doug he explained why and had a solution. We run over half the buses in the UK and cater for about 6,000,000 journeys a day on our 9000 buses. Every one of them starts with the passenger looking at the front of the bus - that’s the importance I placed on his company’s work.
Appointed specifically by the Managing Director Surface Transport in 2014. Major project to re-design of all London’s bus destination displays (about 8000).
From 2005 compiled and designed new
material for London Underground’s
Network Operations Centre and other
internal departments such as the Access
Reservation Agency. Produced maps and
diagrams intended to convey complex
operational detail in a form that is easy to
understand and use on a daily basis. This
included detailed station plans, maps and
diagrams for flood control, radio
communication, tunnel ventilation, power
supply, infrastructure and management.
Derby City Council
FWT London was formed in autumn 2017. Its legacy from an earlier company has been the retention of the same group of people who specialized in all matters requiring Information Design and project management. We are also proud to have retained our dedicated client base. What follows is what some call ‘edited highlights’ of the past and present.
Through the government ‘Better Bus Area’ initiative in 2011, appointed to devise, design and implement radically new wayfinding system for Norwich, including stop-specific timetables, maps and route diagrams. Designed and project managed new bus stop flags and bus station signage, working closely with the County Council. Later design and production work for County area bus stops and major corridors; also bus stations at Kings Lynn, Thetford, Great Yarmouth (Market Gates) and Norwich & Norfolk Hospitals.
From inception of franchise in 2004, devised and project managed the site survey, design, production and rollout of about 300 station exit wayfinding map posters and allied signage.
In 2008 devised new wayfinding system required by reversal of major one-way system. The success of this led to a survey and report of the whole city centre, inclusive of about 80 bus stops, two bus stations and the railway station. Following this, meeting with City Council and all bus operators led to completely new wayfinding system, including bus stop flags, stop-specific timetables and route diagrams. Consultancy, design and implementation of wayfinding for new Haymarket bus station and re-vamp of
St. Margaret’s bus station. Consultancy to write specifications for re-tendering of citywide bus shelter contract.
When cycling became a major initiative in 2004, designed the range of guides and the optimum configuration to cover London in the now range of 14.
Norfolk County Council
Long-term relationship since 1992 to design and produce maps and diagrams across a range of products.
Leicester City Council
From 2006 designed completely new wayfinding system, network diagrams, maps and stop-specific timetables for about 200 street bus stops and the new ‘Travel Centre’ (bus station). Designed and project managed manufacture and installation of signage for the Travel Centre and about twelve key bus interchanges. Later project in 2015 for Southend Airport.
West Midland PTE (now West Midlands Combined Authority)
Major role for London Buses from 1993 on a far reaching review and major expansion of passenger information and wayfinding products, including re-design of the All-London bus map, local area guides and bus shelter map posters. Worked with London Buses planning departments at senior level, working out the optimum way to divide London up for user products and as a cost-effective rollout.
In 2017 conducted site survey for Great Yarmouth Council area and produced detailed report on existing signage and proposals for central area upgrades. Conducted preliminary site survey of Market Gates bus station. Engaged with associate architects, lighting engineers, cladding fabricators and barrier manufacturers. Produced detailed study and report for significant environmental upgrade with costings.
Produced maps and diagrams as part of the FCC franchise bid. On-going production of diagrams for timetables for FCC. Consultancy and design of extensive range of diagrams for GTR – about 50 products for individual brand and collective routes. Quick turn-around maps for GTR website for strike information and rolling stock upgrades. Major network diagram for complete franchise service pattern of 25 routes collectively branded.
Southend Borough Council
Centrally involved with the inception, design and initial production of the new London Buses information and branding package, with LT’s design directorate and executive directors. This included designing the now commonplace ‘spider’ posters and multi-route bus corridor panels.
Designed and produced wayfinding for Derby ‘Temporary Bus Station’ in 2007; this was a major installation of about 30 street-based bus shelters while the old bus station was being demolished. Every stop had to be a mini information centre with boarding information and stop-specific timetables. Designed and produced all new signage and wayfinding material for the new bus station opened in 2010, including equipping all street stops that remained in place and bus stop flags. Assisted the Council with planning and removal of temporary stops.
London Underground map through much of the 1980s.
Surveyed major centres at Manchester, Bury, Altrincham and East Didsbury for new wayfinding information systems for rollout throughout the GMPTE area. Designed new Greater Manchester transport maps in five overlapping areas, including many local Where to Board schemes; trained GMPTE in-house departments for on-going updates.
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Association of Train Operating Companies (now Rail Delivery Group):
First Capital Connect (FCC) and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR)
Transport for London:
Warrington Borough Council
Designed wayfinding system for temporary bus station in 2005, remote from old site, including wayfinding notices, signage between sites and stop-specific timetables. Designed wayfinding and information system for new bus station opened in 2006, including project managing all production and posting sites.
Designed and project managed completely new ’Network West Midlands‘ bus, rail and tram networks information systems, including site surveys and reports at all bus, rail and tram stations. Designed and project managed roll-out of new information systems at 100 bus/bus, bus/rail, rail/tram and bus/tram interchanges. Surveyed and produced detailed reports on wayfinding signage at eight major town centres. Designed signage system and project managed manufacture and implementation at new bus stations at Halesowen, Stourbridge and Wolverhampton.
Greater Manchester PTE (now Transport for Manchester)
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We also have close associations with architects, specialist transport consultants in the bus and rail industries, sign manufacturers and large format printers.
GRM Mapping is a company specialising in interactive mapping products.
They have the same ethics as we do. We only recommend talented and nice people – they are.
Kevin Baverstock is another long-term friend of ours. If you are looking for a talented cartographer, designer, artist, photographer and book designer, look no further. From our design, Kevin constructed this website for us. We only recommend talented and nice people – Kevin is.
CKN Print are based in Northampton and long-term friends of ours.
They have the same ethics as we do. We only recommend talented and nice people – they are.
Doug Rose is the Managing Director of FWT London. His personal website has articles relating to Information Design as well.
What we did
The staff and ticket office areas of the Tube ticket hall.
Current London Underground station plans are very detailed and divide each into several A3 pages. From these, we were asked to create a single overview for about 40 stations, to be colour coded according to usage categories such as: staff, passenger, platform, plant, disused and so on. We had to interpret the source data through our own subject knoweldge, in the case of King’s Cross from over 30 plans.
In order to establish the location of the disused lifts we used a 1935 plan. The Victoria Line, built in the 1960s, is of course not on the old plan.
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Heavily reduced here, the finished plan of King’s Cross is A1 in size. Along the top is a diagram showing the escalator, lift and staircase connections among all six levels.
Most of us have photographs like this. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an easy reference as to who was who.
It transpired that there were five pairs of related parents in this picture with their children. The problem was that not all the siblings were sitting together and not all were near their parents. We devised a colour coding system that readily associated the parents and their children.
The parents are outlined in bold with everyone numbered. The diagram below shows the relationships and ancestory.
Straightforward cookery instructions
No need to say much here; rather than a page of wordy instructions a simple time-line diagram says it all. Just check your watch and off you go.
The blue zone includes the railway station.
Even in this cluttered street scene, exacerbated by an almost invisible glass shelter, the bus stop identity stands out.
London Transport invented lettered bus stops for busy areas in the 1950s. These are now in common use in most cities and towns in the UK. Unfortunately the organization of these is routinely implemented poorly, usually to the point where they don’t actually help.
Bus stop flags and shelter roof plates
Above is the shelter roof plate for Stop DD and the strong visual link made with the map below, posted at every bus stop in Norwich. Distinctive colour coded areas make the visual search easier from the map and these areas were devised to suit the stopping patterns following analysis of the operation of the bus network.
Where shelter roof plates were inpractical to fit, flags were installed. These were designed to the same style with route numbers of a similar size, albeit on a smaller infrastructure. These were the same size as at stop without shelters that only had a simple pole.
Unlike many city centres which have radial road geography, Norwich has a prominent curved spine linking the railway station and bus station. Dividing the catchment conventionally would have failed the user with a more complicated product than necessary.
We have logically devised, designed and implemented many such schemes in cities such as Derby, Leicester, Norwich, Southend and many others. We believe our system is more coherent, logical and visually stronger than any others – including London.
Bus and rail network diagrams
The starting point in ‘the four Ds’ is to examine the network and its geography. The most successful diagrams adhere to the users’ mental model of that geography and network. This is achieved, not by straightening the lines, but by minimising the number of kinks.
Below is one of a set of wayfinding posters produced for Derby bus station, this diagram draws the eye to the focal point of the railway network, providing the context on which all successful diagrams depend. The shape of the network strongly relates to the mental model of the country and so the visual noise of a coastline is not needed. This diagram was produced with visually strong 60 degree angles.
The now much revered London Underground ‘map’ devised by Henry Beck in the early 1930s, little doubt influenced by the work of George Dow before him, has caused most designers to follow his supposed design ‘rules’. Almost all such diagrams are slavishly drawn to 90- and 45-degree geometry. It is crucial to use design rules that best match the structure of the city and not just unthinkingly applying 45 degrees.
The City end of the area leads towards Docklands with a strong clockwise rotated
v-shape to the east via Whitechapel Road and Commercial Road. The resulting diagram was drawn with dominent 30 degree alingments. This approach also makes the design process easier than fighting with unsuitable geometry. One size seldom fits all.
We were asked to devise a network diagram that only included bus routes useful if part or all of the Docklands Light Railway system was closed.
The challenging contradiction was to make the new signs clear but keep them unobtrusive. Filming sometimes took place in these hallowed grounds and the signage needed to be easy to remove and put back.
Signage for the grounds of the Middle Temple
We assessed the locations of the maps and also all the signage. We produced a new map and design drawings for the manufacturer and on-site fitters of the replacement of all signs.
The Estate Manager of the Middle Temple was concerned that the signage was of mixed styles and ages. A map was in place around the grounds but this was not especially successful.
An extract from the table is shown below. To see the full table click here.
The Ultimate Football League Table
Superimposed on the colour is a black number representing the end-of-season position.
This was not a job, but done purely out of curiosity; how could over a century’s worth of league tables be presented on one sheet of paper? Founded in 1888 and now with over 130 clubs having participated, many clubs, such as Middlesbrough Ironopolis and Thames Association are long since defunct. We researched where every club finished at the end of every season and also included the many clubs that have changed their name.
The resulting design is a two-dimensional table that has three dimensions to its content. Horizontal lines list every club alphabetically and vertical columns depict each successive season from left to right. The third dimension is the horizontal coloured bands: pink for the top division, blue for the second, green for the third and yellow for the fourth. A change of colour means a promotion or relegation.
Every bus stop provides further reassurance with a diagram (below left) showing which routes go from there. The diagram reaffirms the stop identity letters and the location is named to match the flag. Operators’ names are shown as this is useful if the user has a specific ticket validity.
Stop-specific bus stop timetables
Here is the map from the ‘Where to Board Your Bus’ poster at every stop. The stop identity letters are arranged logically in alphabetical order to make finding the right one from the index easier. Below is a section of the ‘look-up’ index.
Timetable data is run into customized templates automatically, though we check the data ourselves as part of our managed service.
…and as for the 12-hour or 24-hour debate, simple, provide both.
The first step for them is to get to the correct boarding point for the correct bus route. We designed the maps and the signs. Without clear signs, maps don’t actually work well.
Irrespective of how they have arrived at the bus stop, passengers need reassurance they are at the right one. We created a flag (sign) for every stop and each clearly shows the location identity that matches the map, ‘EF’ in this example. We always say ‘Bus Stop’ on the flag – in so many places, including London, just the letters are displayed and to the uniniated they are just letters, with no context and no apparent meaning.
From consultation in different cities it became clear that a full chronological, stop-specific timetable, was found easier to use than a matrix. Stop-specific timetables are to the point and reduce the mental sifting process by only offering relevant information –
context is everything.
How many times have you heard people say
‘oh I don’t understand timetables’? Then there is the perenial debate about 12-hour or
By looking at this from a novice’s point of view, as we always do, it can be seen that the timetable is just one part of the information chain. The user needs to understand all of it.
Following consultation in 2013 with Leon Daniels, TfL Managing Director Surface Transport, an instruction to re-design all such displays quickly ensued.
As always, context is everything. Here is a very familar passenger’s eye view of a side display. This further demonstrates how squashed letters and compromised letter spacing would otherwise make this display hard to read.
It is seldom understood that the spacing between letters is just as important to get right as the shapes of the letters themselves. These had been heavily compromised and the instruction was to rectify this, though the blind boxes could not be altered and nor could the minimum dictated height of the letters – something had to give.
For a fuller understanding of this complex project download the PDF and watch the video of the talk given to The Sign Design Society.
Bus destination displays for Transport for London
Legibility of what’s on the bus, seen as a moving target, at varying horizontal and vertical angles, in widely varying lighting conditions, should not be dismissed. Seldom will a passenger be motivated to complain and so the industry languishes in a false sense of security. How many customers are lost as a result of this?
Four variants of Johnston type were
designed. The first being almost identical
to the original from 1916 but the other
three all completely new. Edward
Johnston’s carefully tested and superb
principles of proportion and letter
spacing were adhered to fully.
Even a not so difficult number like ‘149’
doesn’t fit existing blind boxes. The red
lines are the maximum visual area.
The development in technology for new buses continues apace. Unfortunately all the effort ignores the boring stuff – like can you read the route number and where the bus is going.
DDA guidelines say that names should
not be all in capitals. To comply with this
the prevailing front display had its
letters distorted (squashed), all the letter
spacing was reduced to the point where
letters were all but touching and the
subsidiary place name was made even
harder to read. The replacement design
has correct letter spacing and no
distortion of the letterforms.
Shape recognition plays an important
role in reading the familiar. This is often
overlooked by automated displays
taking names from a database. If
presented the same, these two places in
Leyton would look very similar from a
distance. The new designs made them
look very different for habitual travellers.
Having been seen – and read from clear
lettering – they can both be recognised
subliminally from a distance.
This side display by the bus’s entrance
needed condensed type for all of it. On
the new design, all is in standard width
‘medium’. DDA recommends all names
to be on one line though having them
on two, in uncompromised type, is far
easier to read.
London’s bus destination blinds have been produced using the rightly respected ‘Johnston’ typeface, for decades only available in two widths. The heavy restriction of the size of the display boxes, coupled with very well-meaning DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) guidelines, have caused all manner of problems that the latter should have foreseen and understood but didn’t.
The track is divided into coloured sections each representing current feed, with their own nomenclature and sub-station locations. Crossovers and points numbers accompany the track layout.
By scrolling left and right, many aspects of the infrastructure portrayed can be seen on this extract from the Northern Line diagram.
The complete set of diagrams is on London Underground’s intranet and kept up-to-date by us from our own resources.
Station management groups and platform numbers showing the normal direction of travel are in place. Tunnel sections include ventilation fan locations and where the keyholder is, as well as emergency in and out evacuation points.
Infrastructure diagrams for London Underground
The department within London Underground that manages all site work carried out by its own staff and external contractors, needed a slick overview of what is encountered on site in real life. From a large range of sources, we brought it all together in one place – one for each of ten operational Lines.
Along the top are inter-station distances and Location Coding System (LCS) codes. Four categories of external access are shown for: gates less than 1.8m wide, gates 1.8m or more in width, small plant and large plant; under- and over-bridges are depicted, all with track distances from zero datum at Ongar.
BESPOKE PUBLIC TRANSPORT MAPS
UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOUR
DIAGRAMS AND TIMETABLES
INDIVIDUALS SPECIALIZING IN
MAKING THE MUNDANE INTERESTING
AUDIENCE NEEDS TO KNOW
HIGH QUALITY INFORMATION DESIGN
WE ARE A SMALL GROUP OF
IN ALL ITS FORMS
Tell us your problem and leave us to come up with the solution. We will want to understand your users’ needs of your products. We call it ‘The Four Ds’. Our approach will always be the same:
• Discover – we look at what you have now
• depict the same thing two different ways
If we were to write a lengthy piece on our principles for graphic communication, we would be contradicting ourselves. Information should be:
• uncluttered by low value content
• Design – devise a cost-effective range of products, or perhaps just one
• of high usability for novices and experts
• depict two different things in the same way
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• with all parts of the chain visually coherent
We live in a world of shorter and shorter attention spans. If your message is not engaged with and understood in seconds, your customer is gone.
• Deliver – assist with manufacture, print and installation
• to the point
Treat us as the Information Doctor. We have done the years of study on your behalf – you don’t have to.
• Define – analyse this in the context of user need and relevance
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