Image of the Week: to form a more perfect parking sign

Where: Chicago, Illinois, USA
When: April 2010
What: "No Parking" sign
Comment: To my eyes, the Chicago "Tow Zone/No Parking" sign is much more attractive than the classic San Francisco "No Parking" signs. Although it contains some text, the greater white space makes it easier to read.
Related Posts:
Image: SFMTA

Below are some other signs that follow the same nice clean aesthetic.


  1. I would not be one bit surprised if the well design signs reduced citations.

    Having the instructions stacked like that with the iconography first, and the qualifying text below creates an information hierarchy. Using standard iconography allows drivers to see at a glance if parking is allowed or not without having to read anything which takes brain power to convert those clumps of letters into words before they can be sorted out, when the driver really should be focused on driving safely. Only once you've gotten passed that step does the driver need to read anything.

    The SFMTA signs don't have a simple icon and the way the information hierarchy is (not structure) all the heading says is "NO" making you read the second bit which reads "PARKING ANY TIME" which is separated from the No by both staring on a new line and set in an opposing color scheme. This is the same visual design technique used to indicate the selected link, tab, button, menu item, day on the calendar, section of a store, parking lot, category in a catalog, etc.

    So while the driver should be still be keeping a focus on other cars, scooters, bikes, busses, delivery trucks, and pedestrians while slowing to look for parking, they also have to fight against in instinct and intuition to combine and make sense of opposing concepts. While you're doing that your foot was still holding the gas peddle down and you just rear-ended the car in front of you.

    I found two differently design No Parking signs in my neighborhood and broke them down too.


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