First, for a piece of signage I like.
This sign doesn’t really tell you anything. But it made me stop and investigate, which was neat. Turns out, this sign is part of a larger installation (you can see other signs in the background) that takes a poem written by the artist and translates each line into a different language that can be heard in Brooklyn. “The truth is I love you” was translated into some Slavic-esque language I couldn’t make out. Other signs were translated into other languages. While it doesn’t necessarily reflect the informational nature of signage, it served as a reminder that we live in the most diverse place on earth. Not bad for a simple sign.
The next three examples are just plain bad.
This particular subway station has caused me endless amounts of frustration. It clearly says that you can access a 6 train, but it doesn’t specify whether it’s uptown or downtown. And, technically it’s not an incorrect sign. You can access both the uptown and downtown lines from this entrance. What it doesn’t tell you is that this entrance leads directly to the uptown line. To get to the downtown line you have to walk through a winding maze of underground tunnels and up and down several flights of stairs. If you walk across the street and enter on the other side, you can directly access the downtown line. Pretty silly. Until you notice the small sign on the side of the stairwell bars that tells you just that. But who would think to look there?
This one isn’t the most offensive, but struck me as confusing enough to warrant attention. What do the little icons next to METERED FARE and FLAT FARE mean? What does a phone have to do with this? I took this photo, then forgot about it for a while. A few hours later it dawned on me, seemingly out of nowhere that the man waving refers to the fact that if you hail this cab, you”ll pay a metered fare, but if you call this cab company, you’ll get a flat fare quoted on the phone. It’s simple, but the fact that it took me so long to figure out bothered me.
This bodega near my apartment really wants to get your attention. It’s like they went to a sign graveyard and picked the first handful of signs that their dog decided to pee on.
The number of different colors and fonts…
The fact that they use the word ‘gourmet’ twice…
The random placement of the fresh juice bar sign…
The Fix is In
Usually the idea would be to pare down as much text as possible. But when too little text leads to confusion, it may be time to throw a few more words into the mix.