IIID Conversation with Maxwell Roberts, 2 February 2023, 15:00 UTC

Why Henry Beck’s 1933 London tube map design was such a resounding success

It’s exactly 90 years since the launch of Henry Beck’s 1933 London Underground network diagram, which has become an iconic example of information design . We’re marking this with a talk by Maxwell Roberts who is the pre-eminent expert on the diagram and author of several books on it.

Max says: “It was a remarkable work of elegant compromise, effortlessly balancing conflicting priorities and presenting passengers with a design that simplified reality in a useful way. In this talk I will highlight these priorities and consider recent findings in usability testing that show the importance of attending to them.”

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Maxwell Roberts lectures in psychology at the University of Essex, UK, with BSc and PhD degrees from the University of Nottingham. His research interests have included reasoning and intelligence, but now focus on information design and, in particular, schematic maps, creating challenging designs and testing their usability and aesthetics. He has authored four books and several academic papers on this topic and co-chairs the Schematic Mapping Workshop. His personal web page is www.tubemapcentral.com.