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November 10, 2005 12:03 AM

Broken: Floor signs at the Getty parking structure

P3_1P3_2Dan Phiffer points out:

These are two photos taken on the same level at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

The first photo is taken from within the stairwell. The second photo is taken where you park your car. No post-processing here.

Either they ran out of blue paint, or whoever took care of buying the signage was color blind.


judging from the braile, they may have just been blind. and speaking of braile, i hope that sign was somewhere a blind person was likely to put their hands.

Posted by: gmangw at November 10, 2005 12:41 AM

I think the blue one in the stairs is to tell you what floors you can access from the stairwell (like if you got off at the wrong floor or wanted to just use the stairs). Also notice that this is braille enabled. The stair 2 is so you know which stairs to use, assuming there are more than one stairwell.

The big orange sign just reminds you where you are.

Not broken.

Posted by: DaveZ at November 10, 2005 12:42 AM

Failing to use matching colors qualifies as broken?

OK, now even I think this site is going downhill.

Posted by: Kenton Varda at November 10, 2005 12:51 AM

I disagree. You'd be surprised how seldom you notice the color of the walls in the parking structure (a lot of parking facilities have slips of colored paper you can pick up at the elevator for this reason).

The blue sign not matching the walls would suggest to me that the contractor used a standard color for the elevator signs. Since I don't generally think about where I parked until I reach the elevator, this setup would definitely confuse and infuriate me.

Posted by: Josh Z. at November 10, 2005 01:03 AM

Not Broken

The blue is probably a consistant color for all the signage in the entire building. The colors apply to the parking levels

As far as stair 2 this is to ID that stairwell so that locations can be accuratly communicated eg. by firefighters

Posted by: Ron at November 10, 2005 03:36 AM

I am going to vote Not Broken on this one. I don't pay attention to color, and i can easily remember where i parked my car. I have a good sense of direction, and that helps as well. Also, I bet that many of the people that are in that parking lot park there a lot, meaning they are used to the signage, and probably ignore it by now. If two different colors confuse you when it is still clearly marked P3, then you need help.

Posted by: yoyo at November 10, 2005 08:53 AM

yoyo apparently doesnt understand the concept of other people. you not having a problem has little bearing, there are a LOT of people for who colors are naturally a large part of helping them remember, and who WOULD be confused by conflicting colors.

broken, but only lightly.

Posted by: gmangw at November 10, 2005 12:11 PM

I have to agree with gmangw.

Posted by: JAC at November 10, 2005 12:27 PM

Why use color at all unless as a means for giving the unconscious mind a fighting chance to help the conscious mind remember otherwise meaningless data?

Beware, engineers, The Not Broken Brigade is undermining your will to create a meaningful customer experience.

If you have a good memory and a good sense of direction then you're not qualified to comment on the garage paint issue.

Posted by: sparky at November 10, 2005 01:17 PM

I'm going to wimp out and take both sides here. There isn't enough info between the two photos to decide whether this is broken. For example if the walls on each floor are a different color but the signs are all blue, I don't think that is broken. If the walls are all orange and the signs are all blue, that is not broken at all. If the walls on each floor are a different color and the signs are different colors that do not match the walls, then I guess that would be broken.

Also, can't tell for sure, but suspect the sign is a fabricated piece of metal or plastic, not simply painted on the wall. That would moot the "ran out of blue paint" argument.

There comes a point where it is less helpful to invent additional bells and whistles to "help" people notice things. People go into sensory overload and fail to notice that plain facts are staring them in the face. A simple "P3" on each level, *without* the distraction of changing colors, can be argued as the most useful way to get the point across.

Posted by: Pat at November 10, 2005 03:17 PM

I think we need more information here. Are all the signs blue? Are the levels in the parking garage different colors from one another or consistant? Either way, I agree, if they're going to bother with the colors, make them match the signage.

Posted by: ambrocked at November 10, 2005 03:21 PM

actually, blue and orange, while contrasting are also at the same time complimentary colors and actually make for a very good color mixture in artistry, i also think that this is "not" broken.

Posted by: Dragon at November 10, 2005 04:18 PM

Not, broken, different colors doesn't qualify as broken, a mis-print on the other hand does. I don't think this pic should even be on this site.

Posted by: iamstrong2 at November 10, 2005 09:34 PM

If using more than one color is broken then my whole wardrobe is broken and thats just for starters.

Posted by: tool at November 10, 2005 11:32 PM

Many people use the color system for directional guidance. Some of us; like me, an artist, are a bit numerically challenged.

What are you trying to say Dragon? The really good art at the Getty is in the parking lot? Broken.

Posted by: A. K. B. at November 11, 2005 12:27 AM

Some garages (such as the Rideau Centre) in Ottawa color-code the parking areas. e.g. there will be both a Level 2 Red and a Level 2 Blue. If you remember only "2" then you are screwed.

If you have never been to the Getty garage before, then you don't know if the color is relevant. If you are not aware that color could be relevant then you are OK. If you are aware that it could be relevant then you are screwed here, as you will fail to match the color.

Broken, but what makes it so is the butthead decision of other garages to color-code different zones on the same level.

Posted by: David Jones at November 11, 2005 12:13 PM

I vote Not Broken, unless the floors are intended to be color-coded. (i.e. there's a red floor and a blue floor)

Posted by: Bob at November 11, 2005 04:29 PM

I say not broken. But lets be kind to the many international visitors to the Getty Center. They can't understand English and may not understand or remember a big '3'. As long as they can drive a car, they should be able to recognize colors, such as red, yellow green. We wouldn't want too many confused people trying to find their Lexuses on the wrong floor.

What's broke is the Braille on these parking lot signs. How many blind people actually drive around anyway?

Posted by: Steve at November 11, 2005 05:10 PM

not broken:

as a sign designer familiar with cal. codes, the blue sign in the stairwell complies with fire dept requirements, title 24, for 1" and 5" raised letters and grade 2 braille signs and can be any color - they are probably all blue signs in the stairwells. however, the orange painted graphics on the walls and columns are part of an optional color coded system, with a different color for each level which is used to reinforce the level on which you parked your car.

Posted by: Arno at November 12, 2005 01:30 PM

What I think is broken is the fact that you put braille on a sign in a car park. If a person needs braille to read the signs, I certainly hope they're not driving the car!

Posted by: Sarah at November 14, 2005 10:57 AM

To those who say it's NOT broken: why color code the floors if you are not also going to color code the corresponding signage?

To those who say it is broken: have you considered that adding another layer of coding might simply reduce the effectiveness of the other coding system?

To everyone (myself included): why do we assume that if something is NOT broken for us, it must not be broken for anyone else? If this were the case, then we should never do user testing, because everyone would have the same reactions and results. Of course that's silly, so we must be open to the idea that the ideal customer experience meets the needs a majority of users.

Posted by: Michael McWatters at November 15, 2005 12:52 PM


What I think is broken is the fact that you put braille on a sign in a car park. If a person needs braille to read the signs, I certainly hope they're not driving the car!


Give me a break!!!

Blind people go on trips with friends and family. They sometimes need to find the car independantly.

Here's a big fat "DUH!" for ya!

Posted by: Phill at November 16, 2005 08:11 AM

Who are you, Paris Hilton? Are you joking? If you can't match a big capitalized P3 sign to another one written the size of a billboard without the colors matching, I seriously don't think you even possess a brain. You don't deserve to even drive a car. Get a life, and maybe the ability to process numericals without color coding.

Posted by: MB at March 22, 2006 12:56 AM

Oh yea, and Sarah:

Lets say a blind person who works in or is visiting this building accidentally walks into the parking garage....they might want to know where they are. Man, this post is some SERIOUS evidence for deevolution.

Posted by: MB at March 22, 2006 12:59 AM

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