Posts tagged “sign”

Value Proposition Escalation

Parking Lot Sign, Portland, OR, July 2010

Sure, we can rationally compare the price tag of one commodity over another, and can conclude that one is objectively cheaper. But what is the emotional benefit of choosing the cheaper one? This parking lot sign encourages us to pay ourselves a bit of a compliment for choosing them over another. A gentle example of escalating your offer.

Leading with Error Recovery

JetBlue counter, Sea-Tac airport

This sign directs JetBlue customers to a counter based on their specific situation. The first item listed is Kiosk “Oops” Messages. JetBlue is bold enough to acknowledge that things aren’t always going to work perfectly and they’ve made the path to error recovery prominent. This is good customer service, and it’s good design: allow for – and acknowledge that you are allowing for – failures, and reframe them positively.

What do you want to have?

Window sign, Amsterdam, May 2009

It’s pretty clear from the list of items available who this store (adjacent to a nice hotel) is catering to

Gifts, wannahaves, cold drinks, candy, souvenirs and: toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, nailclippers, lighters, shavingfoam, adapters, batteries, toys, Delft blue, jewelry, magnets, T-shirts, caps, bags, kitchenstuff, dolls, etcetera ..

But what the heck is a wannahave? Seems to be Dutch slang for a desirable artifact (obvious, I guess). There’s even Wannahaves International

WHS International BV is owner, Publisher and exploiter of the international brand Wannahaves(r). Wannahaves primarily targets young modern men in age range 18-34.

And to that point, the navigation on their website includes: Gadgets, Games, Babes and Lifestyle.

I guess I’ve learned a new word!

Meanwhile, photos from our trip to Amsterdam are slowly going up here.

“Very Loud Please Cover Ears!”

Here’s the Nine O’Clock Gun in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

The cannon, safe inside a cage, fires every night at 9:00. And there are warning signs, of course. One is fairly straightforward

And the other looks like a parody example of Bad Visual Design.

Although the entire sign is hideous, confusing, hilarious yet disturbing, the bad copy, perhaps to cross cultures, is my (for lack of a better word) favorite. I love the phrase “Very Loud Please Cover Ears!” — note that the unnecessary quotes are actually included in the copy. It trumps the bad colors, the confusing icons, and the abysmal visual flow. I picture some bureaucrat, for whom English is not a first language, shouting out the copy to the sign designer, who took it down verbatim. Although just a comma would help a lot, but it still just reads embarrassingly wrong.

See more of my Vancouver 2009 pictures here.

Tokyo Patterns: Enjoy

Here’s another set of examples from our last trip to Tokyo: the frequent and enthusiastic use of the English word Enjoy (also, Let’s Enjoy) to market a product or service:

Enjoy cat

Enjoy photo

Let’s enjoy your life style

Enjoy karaoke

And a few months later, unpacking a new Sony camera, here’s what you see first thing upon opening the box:
Let’s Enjoy Video

Pop Culture Osmosis, Tokyo (part 1)
Pop Culture Osmosis, Tokyo (part 2)

Fair Warning

We’ve posted previously on this blog about the signs people create to help others navigate unfamiliar situations.

Thus, as soon as I saw this beauty in a highway-side restroom, I started thinking about the picture I was going to take.


I vividly remember washing my hands and snickering to myself about the apparent complexity of the instructions, thinking, “what, are people getting trapped in here?”

A few seconds later, the timed light clicked off, and my attitude changed just as quickly as I found myself in darkness and completely unable to get the door open. Of course I hadn’t actually read the signs–just thought about them as “an example of . . . ”

I tried in vain to undo the door by feel and intuition, and started imagining how much it would suck to spend the night trapped in a highway-side restroom. After a bit of worst-case-scenario fantasizing, I used the light from my cell phone to illuminate the signs, which indeed, contained instructions absolutely essential to getting the door open.

Leaving me with two questions:

  1. Who the hell designs a door that difficult to open?
  2. Should I have added “NO, REALLY-TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY!!!” to the signs?

I found the whole experience amusing, but it really is kind of crazy that a public restroom is trapping people on the side of Highway 84.

Postcards from the road: PHX to PDX

It’s been a busy-yet-fun few days on the road, from giving a plenary presentation and workshop at ASU’s Design Research Symposium (more to come, whenever I get my pictures – Hi, Greg!), to meetings, dinner with colleagues, and helping a client synthesize fieldwork data from China and Russia into product concepts. Here are some images I captured along the way:

Font problems @ Sky Harbor Airport, April, 2008

No carry-on tires, Sky Harbor Airport, April, 2008

Well, Tempe, AZ, April, 2008

Pay Here, Tempe, AZ, April, 2008

Fear God, Tempe, AZ, April, 2008

Disengaged Citrus, Tempe, AZ, April, 2008

Life imitates The Simpsons, Tempe, AZ, April, 2008

Busy license plate, Tempe, AZ, April, 2008

Crepes To Go, Portland, OR, April, 2008

Font Era #1, Portland, OR, April, 2008

Font Era #2, Portland, OR, April, 2008

Dog Paintings, Portland, OR, April, 2008

Sign upon sign, Portland, OR, April, 2008

Lift party, Portland, OR, April, 2008

Do This Don’t Do That Can’t You Read The Sign?

Earlier this week I spent the day with the design team of a global technology company. I can’t say much more but I can share a couple of photographs from different bathrooms.

The standard soap dispenser has been repurposed for hand lotion. The soap comes from the other kind of standard dispenser, a foot away, next to the sink.

Washing your hands is a fairly unconscious behavior, you assess the space visually and quickly move through the various tasks…so who stops to read the sign that says Hand Lotion? That sign serves more of a “here’s how you messed up, buddy” explanation than as a preventative measure. I had a hard time stopping myself from getting hand lotion when I wanted soap.

We did have a group discussion about observing signs in the environment to identify workarounds and opportunities for improvement and so I was pleased to have an example from their environment to share back. This ended up in the always enjoyable men’s bathroom vs. women’s bathroom comparison…in this office the women’s bathroom includes a dispenser for hand sanitizer (in addition to soap and lotion). Unfortunately I didn’t get in there to take a picture. But, oh, the mode errors!

I was struck by the presumed need for this sign in a different bathroom, explaining what locked and unlocked look like. I had this quick “well that’s dumb” reaction, took the picture, used the facility, and then upon exiting realized that I had failed to lock the door! I’m not sure exactly how I managed to not lock it, since that is another automatic behavior.

In both cases, the signs themselves caught my attention, but I still exhibited the behavior they were trying to prevent (taking lotion instead of soap, leaving the door unlocked).

See also Signs To Override Human Nature, previously.


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