Bad signage – hide crucial info

When you sign the front of a building, the key bit of information users would want is the number. This is especially true on a long main street such as Elizabeth Street in Sydney.

Despite it being executed on a flat surface, designing effective signage requires an appreciation of 3D space. It is more than graphic design.

This sequence of photos shows the unfortunate results of what happens when a designer works on a signage project without a clue of what is around the final piece.

I am walking down Elizabeth Street looking for number 410. I think I am close but am not sure which is the doorway to the building. Could this be it?

Or have I overshot it? Why tell me what I already know – I am on Elizabeth Street. But is this 410?

Oh yes it is. When I peer into the entryway and see the number, tucked as far away from visibility as possible!

Had the designer been aware of the surrounding environment, instead of merely looking at a white flat surface of x-y dimensions, he/she would probably have come up with the following, more usable, solution.

Good signage is about easy wayfinding, not exploration!


  1. Corporate Signage said:

    Do you know what it happens all over the world and i am forever trying to find numbers for business i am trying to visit but can you find it can you heck because the writting is in such small print on the wall that not even a mouse can read it . I am in the uk and it happens here .. like you said maybe they will maybe one day think and make it a bit larger to read and easier to find.

  2. Zern said:

    <sarcasm>Awww – but it looks sooo good on my computer screen when I am laying it out flat and without any of the nasty distractions call reality…</sarcasm>

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