Readings 3.10

The Secret Language of Signs

This reading talks about how signage is the most useful thing we pay no attention to. Bad signs can send perfectly ordinary citizens into spirals of obsession. Signs should be designed for the humble human, this can also be referred to as “wayfinding.” Businesses make sure signs work because well-oriented people are calmer, happier, and more likely to spend money than people who are lost. Much of sign innovation has sprouted from our world becoming so globalized and people traveling in airports all the time. These signs need to be understood by everyone coming and going, of all nationalities.

Lost in Penn Station

This reading talks about how the signage at Penn station, one of the busiest hubs in America, is confusing and bizarre. Penn station is home to three different railroads—Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the LIRR—and two subway lines. It’s the busiest train station in North America. The signage is confusing and it makes people second guess whether they are on the right track to find their train. In order for a space to work, way-finding needs to identify every key decision point a visitor might stop and think, “Where do I go from here?” It’s also important to decide what information will go on each sign, doling out directions only as needed. The problem with Penn Station is that three sets of designers did this process at the same time.

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