For our latest Design Lab assignment, we were asked to learn to see iconography and their interpreted meaning. Through the readings I learned how signs could be distinguished into three main modes: symbol, icon and index. A Symbol or Symbolic sign — must be learned. i.e. alphabets, traffic signs. Icon or Iconic sign — does not necessarily have to be learned. The icon represents the signified object in some way and Index or Indexical Sign — the signifier is in some way related to the object, but the meaning might need to be learnt. i.e. lightning bolt for electric danger

I decided to take a bike trip and look for different signs around town. As I turned onto the main street, I saw my first sign. I needed to get onto the bike lane on the street and this sign indicated that there was a bike route. This was an Iconic sign. The bike icon is very representative of a bike and the words ‘route’ made it very clear what this sign was for. Overall, I would give this sign an ‘A’ for effectiveness and clarity. The road sign also had to be something that a person riding quickly on bike could easily decipher and this met that requirement.

Bike Route

I then turned onto the Iron Horse trail, making my way to Uptown Waterloo. I came across this really cool sign.

Stop upcoming rail road track.

Around the corner from this sign is an active railroad track that crosses the trail path. I think this is both a symbolic and iconic sign. The red octagon must be learned to mean stop. While the arrow and the railroad tracks are iconic, they are representative of the signified object. I would give this sign a ‘B’ for effectiveness and clarity. I think while the meaning can be deciphered, I think this is a case where the icons needed accompanying text to be really clear. I think a large sign reading, Stop railroad tracks ahead, might be easier to understand.

Bike Parking

Once I go to uptown Waterloo, I quickly found this sign. Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario is a bike-friendly region and many of the parking lots have designated bike parking areas. This bike parking lot is front of the town square. I think this sign is also a mixture of symbolic (needs to be learned) and iconic. The big P, you will need to learn stands for parking. While the bike icon is self-explanatory. I think as a sign this works really well. I give it an ‘A’.

I decided to walk around on foot around the square and looked for signs. This was one of my favourite signs.

You are probably super curious where this sign was. I found it on the side of a waste management dumpster behind a store. The sign is to discourage thrill-seekers from using the dumpster as a jumping board. I also think it might act as a hint of something fun you could do. I liked that this sign used both icons and copy. However, it was on the side of the dumpster and not very visible. I think I only noticed the sign because I was on the hunt for signs. I would give this a ‘B+’ for clarity and effectiveness, but I do wonder if this sign is really necessary.

On my way home, I came across my last sign. This was located in front of a public school.

This was a large sign placed near the front of the school. I think the copy on the sign is really effective. I’m not sure if the icon of the child running with the ball is necessary. Sometimes words work better than a symbol. I give this sign a ‘B+’ for clarity and effectiveness.

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