Good & Bad Signs

In ITP, Visual Language

For our Week 2 assignment, we needed to find 3 examples of bad or confusing signage in NYC and choose another one that we liked. Then, we had to look at how to improve on one of the “bad” examples.


Good Examples

I couldn’t help but add the sign outside of JG Melon. Melons has been around for 30 plus years on the Upper East Side and has the best burger and bloody mary in the city. Seriously, check it out. It’s an iconic New York spot and I feel that the sign speaks to it’s authenticity and history. The Neon piping does bring up the feeling of a bar/restaurant but I really selected this sign for aesthetics more than anything else. I also included a shot of the interior as they reinforce their brand nicely by having watermelons all over the walls.


I actually chose two “good” signs. My second one is close to all of us–the NYU trash cans that say “Landfill” on them. I feel like this communicates a really strong message that gets people to think twice before throwing something away. It forces people to visualize a landfill, and in turn, their footprint on the planet.


 Bad Examples

Similarly to some of the subway examples that Katherine showed in class, I encountered some very confusing way-finding signs in the Time Square subway station. Below you see that one sign indicates the N,Q and R lines to the left and another one that indicates that they are straight ahead.

bad sign NQR

My second example is also from the subway and it’s something that still messes with me after 27 years in New York! Whenever you see “8th Street & Broadway NW corner” for example, and you turn to look up the stairs, you never know which direction is to the avenue and which direction is to the actual street (i.e. 8th Street or Broadway). I take the exit that I’m not supposed to every time without fail. I think people could really benefit from adding additional signage at the top of the stairs.

bad sign - NW entrace and exit

My last example and the one I chose to improve upon is the NYC Taxi indicators. I feel like every time I have people visiting from abroad, they never know if the taxi’s they are hailing are available or not. There also used to be added confusion with the “Off Duty” lights, which they have now removed. However, I think there could be a much clearer way to communicate wether a taxi is available or not. The On/Off yellow light system that is currently in place does not seem to be intuitive to visitors. That presents a problem for a city with so much tourism.

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