Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0142-5471
  • E-ISSN: 1569-979X



This study draws attention to the challenging perception of two public information pictograms, ‘elevator’ and ‘toilet’. Both indicate the location of a destination. Although the semantic information is completely different, both pictograms partly depict the same: front view of standing human figures. In certain contexts (e.g., at airports or train stations), with people in a hurry and with users from different cultures, this can lead to confusion. In addition, the representation of human figures is increasingly being questioned on the basis of public and political discussions on gender issues. Moreover, attention to accessibility is also being incorporated in these two pictograms. Thus, both pictograms are undergoing an evolutionary process in order to meet current requirements. Do more messages require more complex pictograms? As a starting point, we conducted a comprehension test based on the method recommended by iso 9186-1. The results showed trends, but some questions regarding the two pictograms were not clearly understood by the test group members. Therefore, we conducted another test designed to determine the limits of the graphics depicted in these pictograms. We hope this study will help raise awareness about these issues. Finally, we offer five pointers for consideration when designing the elevator pictogram in the future.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 license.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): elevator; iso 9186-1; perception; pictograms; semantic; toilet; wayfinding
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