Visual Language - Week 2 - The Good, the Bad and the Lost

Looking out for good and bad signage this week turned out to be a bit of a challenge, simply I think because I am less accustomed to noticing the design of signage than I am the design of a billboard or movie poster in the subway.

The Good

When I did go out with the express intention of finding signs I liked, I found there to be a real neon theme among them. I have long loved the look of neon, and these two restaurant signs use it in slightly different, but equally wonderful ways.

I love this sign for "Off the Wagon Bar & Grill”. It has a fun, vintage look that still feels fresh because of its wonderful colors. And most importantly, it even has the time of the Happy Hour right on the sign!

This spot is right around the corner from ITP, and I just love the use of neon here because, unlike Off the Wagon, it has a completely modern feel. But even more than that, by choosing to put this large, airy logo right in the window of the restaurant itself, it makes the activity of the dessert place behind it a living part of the sign itself.

The Bad

Now on the flip side, I have one objectively bad, bad sign as well as one that might be contentious. The first one is this sign for Pasta Wiz.

This sign is just pretty terrible. The logo is ugly, the font is cheesy, and the info hierarchy is all wrong. The name of the restaurant has ‘pasta’ in it, there is no need to literally put the menu on the sign outside the restaurant in order to convince people that their are noodles available for sale. And in doing so, the logo itself is subjugated to the point that I had to walk all the way up to the entrance in order to tell what the place was even called.


My second ‘bad’ sign is one that many people will recognize - it is one of the wayfinding signs in the NYC subway - and this one in particular highlights a couple of my issues with these signs that I have attempted to fix by updating them myself. First of all, lets talk about that arrow on the left. In my opinion it could mean two very different things - it could be directing me to walk straight ahead, or to go up these stairs. In this case it is saying to go up, but this is not helped by the fact that the arrow doesn’t even actually point up the stairs at all.

The other issue I have is with the organization of information. This sign is telling you that there are three different things up the stairs, but for some reason they are organized in such a way that does not present them equally, thus making it very unclear how, if at all, the different pieces of information relate to each other.

To solve both of these problems I executed two things. First, I redesigned the arrow so that there is one arrow that more clearly indicates that one should walk straight into the distance, and another that indicates that one should go up the stairs.

I also rearranged the information so that not only are each destination approximately the same size on the sign, but they are spaced evenly and laid out in a uniform way so that it is easier to recognize the differences in the two train lines.