Designing a road sign is possibly one of the coolest things I’ve ever been asked to do.
I was asked to design a “caution crossing road” sign at the end of a pedestrian staircase that leads right up to a busy street. The foot-traffic is heavy and cars just fly down the hill, oftentimes neither party seeing each other. So the goal was to post a caution sign that would alert pedestrians but not obstruct the landscape too much.
My first round of drafts was totally text-based, as you can see from this one example.
After some discussion, it seemed appropriate to combine the text with a visual, since the pedestrians in the area are multinational and not necessarily English-speakers. Since I had never designed a road sign before, I did web search after web search looking for an appropriate symbol to use, but found nothing. It seemed that, while there are many caution signs for drivers, there aren’t many designed for pedestrians. I had to improvise.
The first symbol I came up with was an exclamation point and a car.
The problem with this symbol was that the car didn’t look like it was moving. It was like, “Caution! Cars are parked!” So I tilted the car to look like it could be in motion, albeit in a cartoony way, and I liked that the symbol instantly looked more reckless.
I did another round of drafts using the new symbol.
But the one my client liked best was in a triangle format, where I dropped “crossing road” and just left “caution.” We used green because it’s strong but unobtrusive (you’ll see).
I finally managed to get a photo of the sign in action. Unfortunately it wasn’t cut exactly right—if you look closely, you’ll see the trim-line was printed—but my client was quite happy with it.