Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

I saw the (wayfinding) sign

2. April 2008 • Nancy Shore
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I was over on Main the other day when I noticed one of the two mock-up wayfinding signs recently put up by the DDA.

The two signs are located at Main heading north between Madison and Packard and on Miller Street heading east near First Street.

These signs are intended to give people an idea of where to find certain important locations in Ann Arbor as well as the different areas of Ann Arbor (Kerrytown, State Street, etc.).

The whole wayfinding process included public input and a lot of deliberation as to what should be on the signs and how they should look.

And now the DDA wants to know what the public thinks. Feedback can be provided to the DDA via email at or by phoning 734/994-6697

You can view pictures of the sign-mockups and read more about the wayfinding project here.

  1. Ah yes, I saw this sign on Saturday and meant to find out more about it. I’m glad it is just a mock-up because it is almost entirely hidden by a tree so wouldn’t be much good as an actual sign.

    My first impression is that it is very red, white, and blue. I’ll have to see if that is the color scheme they actually want to settle on. I thought the final colors had a little more pizzazz. This has a very village green in Vermont look to it.

    I’m also not sure the sign actually what people are trying to find. Is the Chamber really a destination like this? I’ve never had anyone ask me where it is. Also “Visitor Information” would be where?

    I’ll need to take a better look at the details. I do think it is a great idea to put it out for people to comment on at the mock-up stage. These things are really hard to picture, but are so much easier to understand and comment on when they are up.

       —Juliew    Apr. 3 '08 - 05:18AM    #
  2. They’ve definitely gone all out to involve the public.

       —Dale    Apr. 3 '08 - 05:58AM    #
  3. not a bad sign, but they need better destinations to reflect the actual questions people have.

    zingermans ->
    hospital ->
    parking ->

    are the three I regularly get.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Apr. 3 '08 - 06:35AM    #
  4. Ed,

    agreed. I have never been asked been asked where the CofC or the bus station are, but the three you listed, plus directions to I-94 or US-23, are ones I always get.

       —Tom Brandt    Apr. 3 '08 - 08:37AM    #
  5. OT – one problem with the captcha system used by AU is that is hard to distinguish between the letter “O” and the numeral “0” (zero).

       —Tom Brandt    Apr. 3 '08 - 08:41AM    #
  6. I had to laugh out loud when I walked up the street and encountered this sign for the very first time.

    If anything keeps this camp out of the yawning chasm of road salt and twentieth century detritus, it sure as hell won’t be the chamber of commerce. But naturally, the institution that pays for the sign must be listed first on the sign. And second, don’t you know, we’ll list the Greyhound station, just so the little people know where to go, too.

    The whole fake signpost aesthetic must be seen to be believed, as well.

       —Brian    Apr. 3 '08 - 08:48AM    #
  7. Thank you all for your input, as Nancy mentioned, please do contact the DDA with any comments you may have.

    Juliew – The signs directing folks to Visitor Information will lead them to the Convention and Visitors Bureau. You can get a better idea of the full color scheme by clicking on the link Nancy created to our website page for the wayfinding project, and looking at the renderings of the family of signs. Each area has its own color, and the blue and white remains constant throughout the system. You can also feel free to stop by the DDA office to see the paint chips of the proposed colors, as the colors don’t translate exactly how they would truly appear on the screen or on the mock-ups.

    Edward Vielmetti – These are definitely top destinations downtown! The signage system will direct to parking and to the UM Hospitals. The DDA is working with the University to make sure to tie into their wayfinding system.

    Brian – This project is being paid for by the Downtown Development Authority.

    Hope this helps, and please feel free to contact me directly at if you have additional questions.

       —Lindsay-Jean Hard    Apr. 3 '08 - 07:15PM    #
  8. Same here, Ed and Tom. But I also get asked about the library, the post office, and, for some reason, I’ve gotten asked where Palio’s is a few times recently. (?!). I suppose that they look at my butt and figure that girl’s gotta eat a lot :) :)

       —TeacherPatti    Apr. 4 '08 - 02:20AM    #
  9. Someone should while they are at it remind the University that they have some really, really old signage on Packard (from the 1960s, by the looks of it) inbound near South Quad using symbols and designs that aren’t on any other signs anywhere and that probably qualify as historical objects of preservation.

    I suppose we should think about spray painting the sidewalks with signage too…a big arrow at Liberty and Main pointing east “to campus” would save all manner of questions.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Apr. 4 '08 - 07:04AM    #
  10. They’re not asking for feedback on the content of these sings at this point…they’re asking for feedback on the design elements.

    I’m thinking that helpful feedback would be answers to things like:
    -Is the typeface legible while driving (from how far away)?
    -Can all the info on the sign be processed when you drive by without significantly slowing down?
    -Is the typeface legible while walking?
    -Is the typeface large enough?
    -Is the character kerning/tracking and line leading adjusted so as to make the words easily readable?
    -Is the general color scheme color-blind proof?
    -Are the colors, typeface, and structural design aesthetically pleasing?

    Just some thoughts…

       —keaz    Apr. 4 '08 - 09:10AM    #
  11. “one problem with the captcha system used by AU is that is hard to distinguish between the letter “O” and the numeral “0” (zero).”

    I used to have that problem, too, until I realized—it never gives you a zero.

       —Bruce Fields    Apr. 4 '08 - 07:56PM    #
  12. Bruce, thanks!

       —Tom Brandt    Apr. 4 '08 - 10:03PM    #
  13. I’m dissapointed that I’m first learning about this now… looks like I need to keep up on things a little better. The “redesigned sign family” examples they have up would have been gorgeous if they’d had gone in that direction. These signs are very… meh.

       —Skyler    Apr. 6 '08 - 06:57PM    #
  14. would be worthwhile to have wayfinding materials on the other side of the side, like directions to highways, major roads, popular venues, and such. fwiw, there is another such sign on Miller and First but no mention of the Blind Pig ;)

       —robert s.    Apr. 8 '08 - 06:00PM    #
  15. I agree with Skyler about the design. It reminds me of discussion on Death by risk-aversion and the dumbness of crowds (My title, here’s is more polite). I for one would like signs with a bit more personality.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Apr. 8 '08 - 09:39PM    #
  16. A reminder of what a local group of concerned designers came up with last fall in reaction to the DDA’s initial designs;

    These designs were presented to the DDA...the results were the initial designs were redesigned to be less bad…

       —W.A.P. John    Apr. 9 '08 - 03:19PM    #