Common Signage Mistakes That Cause Major Confusion

by Renae Fogarty

We rely on signage every day to navigate roads, locate our destinations and understand rules and regulations. But what happens when good signage goes bad? Confusing signs can be funny, but also dangerous if they appear in congested traffic areas. Here are the top signage mistakes that cause major confusion:

1. Mixed Messages

Which way would you turn at this intersection in Pittsburgh? Each sign has to be considered in relation to the other communications messages around it. Avoid confusion by spacing out signage as mixing messages like this can lead to major traffic accidents.

One way road signs intersect to cause major confusion.

Photo Credit: bato93 on Flickr

2. Copy Errors

You might expect a spelling or punctuation error on a translated sign in another country, but the mistake on this sign from multi-national retailer Tesco is a surprise. It goes to show the importance of copy editing any and all signs before you send them to the printer!

Tesco copy editing failure.

Photo Credit: Cole Henley on Flickr

3. Too Much Information

This confusing road sign in Ischia Porto, Italy is a nightmare for any driver to comprehend while still paying attention to the road. Context is critical for determining how much you can communicate on any one sign. Safety should always be a top consideration when designing wayfinding signage.

Italian road sign offers little clarity with directions.

Photo Credit: Zoagli on Flickr

4. Important Missing Syllables

So unauthorized graffiti is welcome then? This sign at Colliford Lake in the United Kingdom missed an important syllable in asking people not to tag the wall.

Photo Credit: Geograph

Have you seen any confusing signage in your area that makes you laugh or make you wish for better communication? Tweet them to us @FASTSIGNS using #ConfusingSigns

To see more signage mishaps, check out Visual Confusion: Signs in Unexpected Places.