Do Not Exit. Only Enter.
Warning: Bad Puns Ahead
Read this sign—posted on Washington and 1st, here in Hoboken—and tell me if you see any issues with it. Imagine being a foreigner to the United States who has never seen this sign before. Imagine being someone that doesn’t speak English as a primary language, like so many tourists and visitors to New York.
While I wonder what was going through the mind of the person that designed this sign, I often think this is the same obstacle that environmental and graphic designers face every day. With increasingly global audiences, projects outside the purview of the industry of graphic design and client recommendation and constraints, we’re finding ourselves at a crossroads with a loss of direction. We’re being asked to enter when we’re told to exit. And as designers, it’s our duty to research industries/audiences and suggest alternative routes that may be in direct contrast with clients’ expectations. Naturally, with strong, supporting evidence, we should be met with little resistance. Or, the project may detour until the journey takes us to a destination that satisfies both the client’s needs and the needs of the target audience (the foreigners, the ESL speakers, whom should be the heart of the designer’s recommendations).
I can almost guarantee that the above sign was designed by a non-designer, who doesn’t understand our roles as strategic thinkers and the custodians of clarity, utility and aesthetic. If a designer was responsible for this work, perhaps they need to raise more questions than signs. Otherwise, we’ll all find ourselves idling at dead ends.
That said, I hopefully don’t have to even comment on the below sign: