Signage is everywhere you turn, inside and outside. From restroom doors to highway rest stops, there is signage designed to communicate countless different messages. There are fundamental basics to effective sign design, but many signs obviously don’t follow the rules. Bad signs fail to communicate their message and often convey a different idea altogether, leaving drivers and passers-by confused or amused. We’ve rounded up the top 10 of our favorite confusing signs to illustrate why it’s important to follow basic design principals when creating custom signage.
1. Do Not Breathe Under the Water. This sign is so confusing it’s funny. What happened to inspire the posting of this sign? Swim safety and pool rules signs should communicate a clear message, not raise more questions. (See our pool rules signs: https://www.customsigns.com/safety-signs/pool-safety)
2. Garbage Only, No Trash. Is there a separate sign posted that explains the difference between garbage and trash? This message may have needed two signs, such as recycling and bottles only, perhaps. (See our recycle signs: https://www.customsigns.com/pre-designed-templates/recycle-signs)
3. Left Lane Must Left Lane. Is “left lane” a verb? How can a person “left lane” something? This sign will undoubtedly confuse drivers. It’s vital that traffic and safety signs are easy to understand. (See our safety signs: https://www.customsigns.com/safety-signs)
4. Office Hours. Remember, less is more. We understand this office hours sign may be intended to be funny or sarcastic, but think of the person who just wants to visit the business. Will they read all of this? If they do, they’ll be downright exhausted afterward. Office hours signs should clearly state open and close times.
5. Parrallel Parking. Someone should double check each sign for spelling and grammar errors well before it hits production. This parallel parking sign is just not good. (See our parking signs: https://www.customsigns.com/pre-designed-templates/custom-parking-signs)
6. What!? This sign is so confusing it could cause accidents. Imagine driving past this and trying to make sense of it. A stop sign may have been more effective. (See our road safety signs: https://www.customsigns.com/safety-signs/road-safety-signs)
7. Sign Not in Use. Why is this sign even posted? If not “in use,” what purpose is it serving? Shouldn’t someone just remove the sign?
8. Tanning, Hot New Lamps. Drive Thru Now Open! It’s also important to remember sign placement. The placement of these banners creates a whole new meaning, and a rather interesting visual. Does this tanning business offer drive-thru burns?
9. 4 Third Floor. Imagine stumbling upon this sign. Are you on the 4th or 3rd floor? Is the 4th floor next? It makes no sense. Wayfinding, room name and room number signage should easily lead the visitor to their destination without confusion. (See our room and wayfinding signs: https://www.customsigns.com/room-signage)
10. Please Do Not Throw Berries. This sign was obviously created for a reason, but if someone has to explain the sign, is it really effective? It does at least inspire a giggle. Throwing berries sounds fun…
At CustomSigns.com we’ve made custom signs since 1954. We’ve had more than 60 years to learn the ends and outs of creating effective signage. Be sure to read our blogs about designing visually effective signs and creating ADA compliant signs.