Nikki Sylianteng

Parking Sign Redesign

Role: Designer, Researcher, and Instigator

Collaborators: Solo project

Problem

After getting several $75+ parking tickets in LA, I wondered why parking signs had to be so confusing. You leave your spot never quite sure whether you parked correctly or not. By the time you find out, it's too late; you already got a ticket. The problem is that signs are cluttered with unnecessary information (the why) when what they need to know to take action (the what) is nowhere near clear.

At the end of the day, drivers only need to know two things:

  1. Can I park here?
  2. For how long?

Approach

My strategy was to visualize blocks of time when you can and can’t park. I kept everything else the same—the standard colors and size— as I tried to be mindful of the constraints a large organization like the Department of Transportation might face for a change as seemingly small as this. My intention was to show how a small but thoughtful and strategic change could make big a difference in people's everyday lives.

The first step was to see if the concept made sense to others. I posted it under a parking sign outside my window and left a sharpie where people could write in their comments. After several days it read, "This is awesome. The Mayor should hire you." Since then, I've worked with drivers, city officials, traffic engineers, and the colorblind community to iterate on the design and to encourage adoption. Along the way, I created a colorblind council, parking sign kits, downloadable templates, a map of confusing signs, and a parking sign generator.

Outcome

A study conducted in Brisbane showed up to a 60% improvement. The new signs are now in nine cities worldwide:

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Brisbane, Australia (rolled out)
  • New Haven, CT (rolled out)
  • Oak Park, IL
  • Boston and Somerville, MA
  • Washington, DC
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL

Learn more

Process

First sketches playing with how to best represent the information—horizontally? vertically?
Landing page for people to sign up and come along for the ride
Feedback and design iterations for colorblindness
Templates for download based on crowd-sourced research and submissions
Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiling LA's version of the sign in Downtown LA
A drivers is saved from a parking ticket in Downtown LA
Parking sign generator prototype. Try it here.
Plans for a peer-to-peer parking sign hotline
Shared the project and design process at the Gel Conference in 2015