Exploring User Preferences on Public Sign Design with a New Practice: The Stereotype Production Method

By Annie W. Y. Ng, Kin Wai Michael Siu and Chetwyn C. H. Chan.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Graphic signs are commonly used to provide navigation, warning, regulation and guidance in locations and sectors to which the public has access. Complexity is a design feature that is of central concern in sign research. However, previous studies on the effectiveness of sign complexity have reported mixed results. Thus, the research reported on in this paper was conducted to investigate user preferences on the complexity of sign design in the context of a new practice ― the stereotype production method. Thirty-one Hong Kong Chinese people were invited to show their preferences on graphic public sign designs using this method. For each sign referent, the participants were asked to draw the first pictorial that came to mind as quickly as possible, and then their designs were assessed based on the number of elements constituting the sign. It appeared that both males and females preferred simple sign design involving one or two pictorial elements. In future, to create much more user-friendly graphic signs, the design should be simple, containing only those elements that contribute to understanding. The findings of this study could facilitate communication and media designers to develop better and more usable graphic signs.

Keywords: Graphic Sign, Semantic Message, User Preference, Complexity, Stereotype Production Method

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.147-154. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 805.268KB).

Dr. Annie W. Y. Ng

Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

Annie W. Y. Ng is now with the School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her research focus is in the domain of ergonomics and human factors, visual communication, and human-product interaction.

Prof. Kin Wai Michael Siu

Professor, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

K. W. Michael Siu is Professor and Lab Leader of the Public Design Lab, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. His research interests are in society, culture and deisgn.

Prof. Chetwyn C. H. Chan

Chair Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

Chetwyn C. H. Chan is Chair Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences. He is the founder of the Ergonomics and Human Performance Laboratory at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He is elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association and Fellow of the Hong Kong Psychological Society. His research interests are in mental imagery, visualisation and learning, and cross-modal learning.


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