A New Typeface for Road Signs

Last weekend the New York Times Magazine featured an article about the typeface that will eventually grace its presence on all of the highways in the US.

It’s a nice little article about the history of signage for the US Highways. The previous family of typefaces used by the Federal Highway Administration was known as Highway Gothic. The new typeface that’s slated to replace it is Clearview. The picture below shows the old Highway Gothic on the left and Clearview on the right.

Highway Sign in Clearview Type

Clearview was designed by Don Meeker and James Montalbano, with an eye for readability at 70mph. According to their studies, Clearview is quite successful.

In nighttime tests, Clearview showed a 16 percent improvement in recognition over Highway Gothic, meaning drivers traveling at 60 miles per hour would have an extra one to two seconds to make a decision.

That’s a lot of time on a highway.

Kohoi Vinh has posted about the article on Subtraction (one of the best designed blogs around):

Vinh has posted some really nice photos of the print version of the story. It’s a shame I missed the print version. The layout is quite nice. I might just have to go find myself a copy.

Batch Processing Elevator Rides

Have you ever been annoyed at being stuck in an elevator that seems to stop at every single floor? I know I have, and the building I work in only has four floors. Apparently the designers of the new New York Times building were annoyed too. More importantly, they decided to do something about it:

At our building, a rider pushes a button on a keypad before getting on an elevator to tell the system what floor she’d like to go to. The system then directs her to a specific car which, in theory, will also carry other riders going to that same floor. The idea is to get riders to their floors faster by ‘batch processing’ them, so to speak, rather than serially processing them.

I think this is a really neat idea. I’m always amazed when something that is so ubiquitous in our lives gets redesigned. I feel like usually it never occurs to people that something so mundane could be made better. I sure hope the usability kinks get worked out and that people take to the idea.