Cruising down the street, hunting for poorly designed signs was this week's exploration. In New York, a city that is made of galaxies of signs and neon lights, it wasn't difficult to find prey.
I remember when I first arrived in New York, trying to navigate myself around the city with the subway, I got confused and was lost so many times. Till this day, I'm still not quite sure when it comes to the vagueness of some information used in the subway signs.
For this exhibit 001, the time frame of "Wkdys & eves", "eves. (evenings)" and "late nights" seems so obscure, that many times I had no idea whether I should walk to the opposite track or stay put. What does "weekdays & eves" mean precisely? It will take one to figure a bit to understand. Is it weekdays and weekend's evenings? Or Weekdays and every eWhat is the exact time frame of evenings? 19:00 - 20:00? or 18:00 - 21:00? The same question for "Late nights". As a tourist central, this definitely needs more clarification, especially when there's no cell phone signal underground, people can get very confused, and left hopeless on the track waiting for a train that might never come.
To redesign this particular sign, I did some research on the MTA website and found out the exact time frames for evenings and late nights. I did not try to create a speculative design sign using LED boards to let people know the information. I kept the main theme of MTA's signs, so that it doesn't require massive replacement of the entire city's subway signs, but to clarify important details for people to navigate themselves.
I was positive that I will be able to find poorly designed signs in Chinatown. It doesn't take a professional design critic to spot uncomfortness in the red and yellow Chinatown. I could say 9 out of 10 store signs could be better designed. Here's some of my thoughts in bullet points:
1 Originality/Uniqueness - a store sign should be different from other stores. It is one of the most effective presentation of the brand's identity. In Chinatown, every store signs looks like they are closely related or actual siblings from one mother.
2 Typography usage - talk about typography design, it's rare to see a sign using font styles that are harmonious together.
3 Placement + The awareness of others around - in Chinatown, shops are crowed together, horizontally and vertically, and every store is also fighting for air space to shout out their store sign. This situation creates a orchestra that is extremely noisy and overwhelming to look at. Almost no one can really read any signs. Should there be an overall management of neighbouring signs? To what extent?
This was a sign stuck on the window of a real estate office in my neighborhood. It says " Please leave me a massage and *details ". In my humble opinion, here are some improvements that could be done:
1 Spell check before putting out the sign. For humans have still yet to figure out a way to teleport a massage experience.
2 How to expect a message when one doesn't leave a message method - a phone number/e-mail.
3 To give a more professional presentation, why not print out this instead of handwriting.
4 Details is a bit too vague, be a bit more specific.
5 The tone could be more polite.
Exhibit 004 - A good instruction sign
I came across the floor map in Uniqlo on Broadway. It not only tells the usual information of a floor guide. It also included an index of all the collections at the moment, and instructed locations of them in the store, in a simple, clean manner.