Metro maps are wonderful examples of UX in practice away from the digital sphere. Combine this with the obvious fact that trains are cool and I spend a lot of time thinking about them.
A question has came to my mind today however, and I wonder if there has been any investigation into an answer;
What is the best practice for naming metro lines?
I notice several different methods of doing this in varying systems of the world:
- Colour coded. This seems particularly common with metros that only have a handful of lines, for instance that of Tyne & Wear in the UK with its simple green and yellow naming.
- Numbered. Line 1, line 2, etc... Seoul uses this. Pretty straight forward.
- Lettered. New York uses this. I don't get it.
- Geography based naming. You get this in London with for example the Bakerloo Line, named for the two places it connects. This type of naming is also common with lines in Japan, taking a character from significant places on each side to create a new word.
- Other naming. Also used often in London. Some lines just have names. Like the Victoria or the Metropolitan. No geography in their name.
From a pure user experience angle, which is the most user friendly? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?