about

last guides

The problem with the current offer of travel guides, is that they are mass-produced. In order to address a large targetgroup, a lot of potentially useful information is combined into the guides, making only small parts of the content truely useful for the individual. To solve this problem, I came up with “last guides” as a graduation project: personalized travel guides with content that is automatically generated, and based on one’s personal preferences and interests. This way, someone could—for example—choose to only have touristic sights and restaurants in his guide, while another person could indicate that he is particularly interested in old mansions, but not at all in churches and cathedrals. When the user has made their specific choices on the website of last guides, he can then either choose to order an e-book, or to have a printed and bound version sent to their home or hotel.

The guides consist of three main sections. The first section is background, containing information about the history, the environment, the inhabitants and the culture of a country. This could be either briefly (in the form of simple enumerations), to very extensive (with long essays about different subjects). The second section contains the tours, which are automatically composed hikes or drives along various highlights, based on one’s personal interests, such as “street art”, “old mansions” or “waterfalls”. The last part of the guide are highlights, where common practicalities are summed up, either by instance or by area. Here, the user can also choose for themselves how extensive he wants the amount of information per subject.

The layout of the guides is quite unusual, since these guides are truely pocket size (91 x 125 mm), without compromizing on the content. All the text in the guides is rotated ninety degrees to make it easier to read on such small sizes, while the headers stay in their “normal” position to maintain easiness of scrolling through pages. The page itself has a strict modular grid, offering several distinct possible ways to fill the page with text and images. The two main variants consist of respectively either small blocks of text with small and medium sized images, or a single column of large text with large images.

I have paid special attention to cartography. I created several maps for the travel guides that work well together with the content and layout. Besides the simple black-and-white maps throughout the guides, several foldout maps are added at the end of each guide, making it possible to work on twice the size of a regular spread.

In order to communicate my concept, and the amount of influence a user has on the content and layout of their guides, I manually created four different guides on the same area (Bergen, Norway), as if they were ordered by four different stereotype travellers: the tourist, the adventurer, the backpacker and the specs. While it may not be very clear from the various images shown here, the guides are in fact very different from each other. The smallest guide (the tourist) is with 32 pages almost uncomparable with the biggest guides (the specs, the adventurers) with 112 pages. Of course, these guides are handmade, but theoretically they could be automatically generated. Therefore, this is merely a first research into the possibilities of such a project.

—2014