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Note to Signage Designers: Think of Us People, Please

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, September 10, 2007, at 10:01PM
Absurd Signage Eric Richardson [Flickr]

In addition to being a bit fascinated by bad maps, I'm also really intrigued by bad signage. Given that people create this stuff for a living, you wouldn't think that you'd see so many bizarrely unfriendly conventions, but yet sign-makers gave Downtown the Spring St Hist/Fin and the Broadway Th District.

They're down now, but for the last two weeks I've been amazed and confused by the banners that were hanging over 7th street. They measured maybe six feet by two feet, and hung from Spring to Figueroa. What amazed me was the type, which was basically big enough to read from ten or fifteen feet away. The problem? The banners hung twenty feet above the street. Until you were immediately underneath one there was little chance you could read or understand it.

Those banners reminded me of my favorite example of unreadable type, pictured here on the North University Park signs you'll find next to USC. What you can scarcely make out in the photo is that the solid line at the bottom is a URL. Given that this was going on a sign, with limited space, here's the URL they used:

http://cityplanning.lacity.org/complan/specplan/sparea/nuniparkpage.htm

How many people do you think have ever taken the URL from that sign, memorized it, and gone home to type it into their browser? I'm going to say that now, with this post, maybe one (if a photo counts). If you're spending the bucks to make a sign, make it a priority to spring for the $20/year and get a short domain name.

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