Visual Language – Week 2: Signage

The assignment of this week is:

  1. Go outside and photograph 2 examples of unsuccessful signages and 2 examples of signages you like and post all 4 images to your blog.
  2. Choose one of your unsuccessful signs and redesign it.

And here’re my findings around Downtown Brooklyn.


Good Signages


The first good signage I found is a combination of signs at a construction site. They express warnings in an efficient way by placing the icons and text messages side by side, and assign colors that correspond to the context of the message.So at a first glance, we’ll know what is allowed, what is prohibited, and what we should do.

Less successful construction signs, in contract, don’t take advantage of the power of icons and images. In the above examples, the alerting “Danger” texts are given to express a feeling of warning. But we have to look closer to check the content of the supplementary texts to figure
out exactly what is dangerous here.


The second good signage is the instruction sign for traffic lights. I think it’s good because:
1. the images are intuitive and easy to understand;
2. the images used are consistent with the actual traffic lights
3. the three instructions are aligned in an order corresponding to the changing order of the lights;
4. the instructions begins from the Walk instruction, which is usually the most desirable action a pedestrian wants to take in crossing the road.


Unsuccessful Signages


The first unsuccessful design I found are those on a Chase ATM. It has a bulky touch screen and it looks fancy and techie. Yet as someone who has never used a Chase ATM and wants to make a deposit or withdrawal, it really took me a while to figure out what I should do first until I eventually spotted the card insertor. The touch screen is not helping because it displays a commercial. The blue LEDs highlighting the “Check In” function distracted me and made things even a little worse.

In contrast, another older type ATM I randomly ran into has a prominent instruction plate that captures my attention immediately. The images in the plate for each separate ATM function are consistent with the images of individual functions, and their arrangement mostly aligns with the
spatial layout of the individual functions on the machine. Indeed, it might have less functionality than the Chase ATM; but my mental burden of using it is a lot less than that of Chase’s.


The second not-that-successful design, in my opinion, was the signage for fire connections of Brooklyn Point. The instruction message of a connection is comprised of three parts: the type of the connection (sprinkler, standpipe, and combination of both), its applicable address, and
its applicable floors). It seems that there’s a correlation between the type and the color of connection, but it still takes a while for me understand. And also, the text messages have the same typeface and font color, and they are piling up upon each other, making it somewhat hard to identify the specific information I’m looking for. I tried to come up wit a better design below.


Redesign of the Fire Connection Signage

Due to time constraints, I was not able to make a complete and polished redesign. But here’s my hand sketch:

1. Separate the three types of information
2. Incorporate images to make it more intuitive
3. Align the colors of the connection to the color of the texts

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