Thursday, April 08, 2004


From the Not-Entirely-Clear-On-the-Concept Department:

Today’s discussion is about signs. Two of them. They’re unrelated in content, scope, and purpose. What they do share, it would seem, is the apparent failure of their creators to really think about the purpose of the sign before putting it on display.

Sign 1:
The first sign is in Bethesda. Bethesda is the restaurant capital of the world, possibly the universe. There are more restaurants per something (capita or square foot, I’ve never really been sure which, maybe both) than any other city in the United States. There are also quite a few businesses (to better serve the restaurants, I guess). This means that traffic, both automobile and foot, is often heavy (especially after eating – hahaha I crack me up). Someone has apparently decided that it would be a good idea to remind motorists to be careful. So they put up a banner over the road. They put it high enough so trucks could get underneath it, which was intelligent. The idea itself wasn’t a bad idea, either. The implementation, however, needs improvement. They chose to post their public service announcement as two lines of black text on a green background. Did I mention that this was a banner that spanned three lanes of traffic? Two lines of that length is a lot of text. A lot of text high in the air that is hard to distinguish from its background. By the time I figured out what it said and finished reading it, I had to slam on my brakes to avoid rear-ending the car in front of me. Seems a little counter-productive if you ask me.

Sign 2:
I saw the second sign in my apartment building on the community message board. It was a thin strip of paper with about a paragraph of text on it. The gist of the message was that the person was new to graphic design and wanted small jobs to help build their resume. The idea makes sense and selling small services to neighbors seemed smart to me. The trouble with this sign is that it completely failed to demonstrate any skill at graphic design. It was a paragraph cut from a printed page. This ad is the only evidence a potential customer has of the person’s graphic design abilities and it does not inspire confidence.

So, today’s lesson, is THINK about what you’re doing. Think about the goal, and then think about how ALL aspects of your solution affect that goal. If you’re designing a sign to promote safety, make sure the sign itself isn’t dangerous. If you’re trying to promote your graphic design skills, make sure your advertisement does not suggest you have none.