bear signs and more!

This bear sign study done in Yosemite park was designed to test the effectiveness of different kinds of signs (including one to attract moral appeal, humorous appeal, narrative story and telegraphic title) at different locations throughout the park. The purpose of signs are usually to inform an audience. They can be as a simple as a short notice on an entrance doorway that reads “use other door” or as striking as “beware of mountain lions.” I have also made the connection, after reading this study, that how a sign is interpreted can depend on one’s comfortableness with their location. I will very often ignore familiar signs such as the “use other door” and realize after pulling on the door for a couple seconds (and a little embarrassment) what is going on. However, in a new environment such as the wilderness of Colorado a “Beware of mountain lions” sign is not something I can ignore and has (on a humorous note) led my nervous boyfriend to consider purchasing a $50 can of bear mace.
This study has taught me that there are many variables that complicate the effectiveness of a sign. These variables include location and (as I have already stated) familiarity. It is a designers job to take into account its audience and site characteristics as well. What kind of people go hiking vs. camping? What is a person likely to be thinking about at the location of a sign? There was also a question on the clarity of the meaning of “vividness” in this sign study. I do believe that a sign’s communication medium should be taken into account. All signs used to test “vividness” in this study were printed on yellow signs. From my own personal experience a sign’s medium does effect how fast I detect it. If a sign is hot pink rather than blah yellow I will definitely notice it.
So to “finish up” talking about this bear sign study, the sign that succeeded at interrupting mindless behavior and capturing the audiences attention despite location was the narrative story sign “My Bear Story.” This was surprising to me, I thought it would be “Attention Humans” but then again I do enjoy things that have a moral and empathetic appeal (which is what that particular sign was designed to do. I think if any “My bear Story” might be the winner in at least grabbing the audiences attention. There seems to be further research that is needed to improve signs but id say in general, sign making is more complicated that it looks!

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2 thoughts on “bear signs and more!

  1. “I will very often ignore familiar signs such as the “use other door” and realize after pulling on the door for a couple seconds (and a little embarrassment) what is going on.” So true!! I do the same 😉 None of us stops to read information we believe we already know. So much helpful information is hiding in plain sight

  2. Yea thats funny! I think that has happened to all of at one time or another. Growing up in Colorado, I’ve come accustomed to I guess just taking most signs in wilderness areas as common knowledge. I mean I grew up hearing stories about bears and mountain lions and how to take your trash with you. However if I am in another state visiting say an amusement park or something I will take the time to read the signs or at least glance at them as to become more familiar with the surroundings. If there is something that needs to be said to visitors and keep there attention I think that the bolder and more vivid the sign is the more impact it will have just like the “pink” sign senario.

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