Monday, July 18, 2011

Wayfinding Signage Without the Ads

So while I was away on vacation it seems a newly designed Info-To-Go pillar was presented to City Council here in Toronto. I think wayfinding signage around town is completely essential, but am disappointed to see that the ratio of city information to advertising on these pillars is pretty terrible--even more terrible than the previous design (you can read Torontoist's article on the previous pillar design here). Apparently if you want to find your way, you only get a sliver of spot to look at, but if you're interested in new diamond rings, well, look no further.

One of the places I went on my vacation was back to Vancouver to visit some friends and family. Vancouver began installing info pillars before the Olympics in 2010, but the program has seen a lot of expansion since I left just over a year ago. They were all over the place. A typical pillar was a skinny strip with a map, directions to things nearby, and a listing of local business. The opposite side of the pillar contained the same information. There was a giant 'i' on top. There are no ads (unless you consider the local business listing an ad). Here is one for Coal Harbour:

Now, to be fair, Vancouver's info pillars on busy downtown streets like Robson contain an ad on one side and information on the other, but the vast majority of the pillars are like the ones pictured above. No ads, just info.

Why can't Toronto do something like this?


  1. Good post Jake - this a point I have been thinking about recently as I have just moved to Vancouver from London and was struck by the lack of public signage in the city. Granted, the information boards are well designed but they are very infrequent. They also need to be complemented by more directional signs throughout the city.

    The point about ads is a good one. With city budgets being squeezed they seem an easy and quick revenue source. But taking the easy buck forgets the wider point about impact on design and what impression these signs give about a city brand.

  2. It's funny that you find them infrequent, because when I came back I was amazed to see them all over the place. Perhaps it comes from living in Vancouver for many years where there was absolutely no wayfinding signage at all. Directional signs would be a great addition. The only one I can really think of is the kind of gross, old one by the Vancouver Art Gallery. Although, maybe they removed it.

  3. It would be cool if the ads were replaced by local art. Vancouver needs more art. Our version of artistic expression currently includes rioting.

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