Last week, I travelled to Spain to speak about websites at the #MakeItHappen conference in Marbella. (It went really well, thank you for asking.)

The whole trip took rather a lot of planning.

I booked an early morning flight to Málaga from Stansted Airport so that I could stay with my brother and his family in Cambridge the night before.

Having been stung in the past by expensive airport parking fees, I pre-booked a space in the airport car park.

[Aside: I fail to understand how it can cost more to leave your car static and unused for a few days than it does to fly yourself and your luggage to another country at hundreds of miles an hour, but that’s another story.]

Then, I had to work out how early the airline wanted me to arrive for check-in. How long the transfer would be from the car park to the airport. How long I might have to wait for a transfer bus. How long it would take to drive to the car park. And, therefore, what time I would have to wake up in the morning and leave my brother’s house.

Mijas TV

Being interviewed on Mijas TV soon after I arrived safely in Spain.

On the airport website, I learned I had to check in at least two hours before the scheduled flight time.

On the airport parking website, I found that transfer buses depart every 20 minutes on a route that takes up to 35 minutes.

On Google maps, I plotted the distance between my brother’s house and the airport car park, and found it was a 40-minute journey.

That meant I had to wake up at 4am – otherwise known as silly o’clock.

Where it could all have gone horribly wrong

The instructions on the airport parking website were very clear that you had to choose the right ‘zone’, but didn’t give you a clue about how to do that.

I spent ages Googling for airport zones, but couldn’t find anything except passengers telling horror stories about how they had been dropped off at the wrong one and had to walk from miles, trailing their suitcases, to find the right one.

In the end, I gave up, and trusted that I would be able to identify my zone when I got there.

It turned out that the transfer bus from the car park to the airport drops you off outside the departure area, of which there is only one at Stansted.

The business with the zones only applies when you transfer from the airport to the car park. When you park, notices urge you to make a note of your zone so you can find it on the way back, and on the return route, the bus driver announces each zone so you can get off at the right place.

My car was parked in zone T, bus stop 22, under a tree with a glove on it. When I got back, the glove was gone, but I found my car OK.

What this means to you

Navigation, way-finding and signage is how you direct potential customers to and through your website, office, salon, or retail outlet. If you are not careful and clear with your communications, it is easy for them to get lost, feel confused, or just have a worse experience than you would wish for them.

Sorting out communications that ease the customer journey is something I really like to do.

If you would like help with yours, please get in touch.

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