Not so clever signage

Posted on Tuesday 26 December 2006


I am always surprised when there is a major hotel chain or other business for that matter that makes mistakes having to do with signage that should be obvious to a thoughtful designer.

I was in upstate New York visiting relatives and staying in a Hamptons Inn. They had all kinds of cute nostalgic photos along side of room numbers to add a sort of “down home style” I suppose. Most of the photos were interesting on some level, but my problem with the photo above is that it is an old sign within a sign being used in a context that renders it mismatched.

My first glance left me with the impression that there was a public phone on the floor, as it is the sign that used to occumpany a phone booth it still had contextual pull for me. I think that using signage in a different context sends sloppy signals that are confusing and potentially time wasting.

I think that signage bears a more strict standard than say advertising. Weary traveller might not fail to find their room, but added complexity in the environment even if fleeting is something that could be easily avoided.

As Donald Norman might remark, it is not the user that should be blamed but the careless designer.

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