Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Shouty-shouty Signs

Consider this post as a coda to my A4 Marketing post from last March about the many uses and abuses of the A4 page in contemporary communication.

Last week I came across this amazing example of over-instruction when I was paying for parking at an automated vending machine. I only had my old mobile with me, so these photos are very low resolution. But should be more than adequate for you get the idea. So this class of machines are generally not well regarded for the quality of their user interfaces. But realistically could its manner of operation be so obtuse as to require this amount of explanatory appendices?

This looks like the visual equivalent of those Irish people who speak-very s-l-o-w-l-y whenever explaining something to anyone who does not speak English as their native tongue. What this really says to me is that the people whose job it is to answer the phone whenever somebody cannot get their crumpled tenner into the slot are doing their best to try to ensure that they never have to answer that phone. Surely someone could take them aside and point out that making your customers feel like they are being treated like morons is never a good policy.

Not only where there about twelve notices affixed to every one of these machines, but every door I passed through in the car park had two or three similarly redundant, over-emphasised, A4 notices added to it. In the pièce de résistance, the entrance/exit barrier had three hanging A4 pages sellotaped across it, blowing in the wind, reminding you to have paid for your ticket before approaching the barrier and so forth.

One thing that the sheer abundance of this visual noise made me think again about are those currently popular futurist scenarios where we shall all soon be wearing smart glasses/implants that overlay context-specific tags onto our physical environment. Which is not too unfeasible and may not be too too far off. When there is no physical/spatial limitation on overlaying visual cruft, the results could be far worse than the eyesore shown above.