Hard to Read Window Displays

During my trip to San Francisco, I came across this advertisement:

Take a second or two and try to guess what it says. My initial thought was that it might be in another language (since I couldn’t comprehend anything on there); however, it was actually a poorly-designed mural! I do like the brick visuals next to the words as it matches the floor of the mall. That’s about all I have to say for the positives. The mural is supposed to say phrases like “pop-up”, “create”, and “rent me by the day”, but the glass panels are arranged so close to one another that it becomes hard to read and understand. This defeats the purpose of the advertisement — if no one can understand what it’s saying, then no one will pay to rent the space.


Discussion — 2 Responses

  • Lavance White 04/07/2022 on 8:17 PM

    This is truly a “wild” design. I also found it very hard to read so I feel like everyone has a difficult time interpreting it. The font is nice and simple and the color of the font mixes well with clear window. The designer needs to fix the words. I initially read it left to right starting from the top and it was very wrong. Judging the location by its surroundings, I would think that this apartment complex is very modern. The furniture inside and the design of the bricks would make me think that this would be a higher end apartment complex.

  • Kiara Bush 04/15/2022 on 10:22 PM

    The image I will reference can be found at this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1QDSPnGqyNlCxT1MnxN614v305n1QkCph/view?usp=sharing

    Don’t get me started on poorly planned ads! I have a similar story of an illegible design I found while looking for help with linear algebra. This image (linked above) wants to play with the fact that “linear” and “algebra” have similar endings and thus tries to combine the two. Instead, we end up reading something like “algeb linear proofs” or “algebar line proofs” (or whatever other wacky combo you noticed first). The colors are meant to communicate that the orange letters of “algebra” are a unit, but as a reader, it’s easy to get confused as the letters begin to spiral and the typical “left to right” rule goes down the drain (but only for that word!). As for the “linear,” the fact that the blue and orange letters are on the same baseline together communicates that they too are a group, and the same letters are meant to be used twice. However, the color difference could still lead someone to read just “line” after forming a confused interpretation of the letters of “algebra.” Like this window display, the viewer is given too many options for how they should interpret the message. With public ads in particular, many potential viewers will be on the go and don’t have time to think critically and realize that they’re not supposed to consistently read this ad left to right or top to bottom. They instead have to recognize that each window has a different message (which is also hard to tell because this is glass, and the panes generally blend into one long piece of glass to the passing eye). I feel that the bulk of good communication, especially for an ad, should fall on the designers, as they are the ones with the intent to share in the first place.
    Despite all of this, I do agree with Lavance about the font and overall aesthetic clearly communicating the modern and minimalist style of this building. The simple geometry and sans serif font emphasize the subtext that this place is clean, simple, and offers transparency. I imagine this both literally, as there is a lot of glass and open space inside, and figuratively, as they likely want customers to feel like they are safe with this business (the transparency bit) and they are welcome into this shared space that could foster community and bonding.

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