Be More Than Legible

“Don’t confuse legibility with communication. Just because something is legible doesn’t mean it communicates and, more importantly, doesn’t mean it communicates the right thing.”
David Carson

I've been meaning to get a picture of this for several weeks. I feared they'd take it down or, worst of all, improve it. Finally, today during my morning run, I was able to capture it.

This sign says so much. I go by it several times each day, and it agitates me each time. What gets me is that I this sign communicates so much, and only a small part of it is concerned with the truth.

If you can't tell, this sign once read:

Now Enrolling:

Infants & Toddlers

Drop-ins welcome

As you see, it now reads:

Now Enrolling:


What are we to make of the fact that this daycare no longer welcomes infants and no longer accepts drop-ins?

Do I want to drop my toddler at a daycare that once welcomed infants with open arms, but at some point had a change of heart? And what do I make of a business that, instead of presenting a clear, professional sign, jerry-rigs their old sign to suit their needs.

There’s a story here. It’s embedded, but it’s there.

I don’t know the true story, but I've been entertaining these three options:

  • The daycare discovered they’re particularly gifted with toddlers and want to focus on that age group.
  • The daycare discovered they don’t like working with infants. The work wasn’t worth the wage.
  • The government requires some kind of certification for daycares that care for infants.

Everything communicates something, and this sign is no exception. Why not use it to communicate the right message? Spend the $45, or whatever it costs, to buy a new sign that reads something like:

Your toddler-centered Daycare

No ambiguity. No question about their specialization. No wondering why they don’t serve infants anymore, refuse to take drop-ins, and jerry-rigged an old sign. ("If they cut corners with their sign, how will they treat my child?") It’s just enough information for parents of toddlers to immediately understand that, "This daycare may be able to help me."

It doesn’t matter whether our message makes sense to us. It has to make sense to the people we’re trying to reach. Just because it's legible, doesn't mean it's good communication.

Andrew Robinson