Pier pressure

  Palace Pier, Brighton
Palace Pier, BrightonPalace Pier, Brighton

Deliberately routing users via a longer or more circuitous route is found in many forms (with a variety of intentions) from misleading road signs, to endless click-through screens, splitting up articles, periodic rearrangement of supermarket shelves, and so on. This kind of forcing function can also be used to increase the likelihood of users reading ‘important’ information; as always, there is an agenda behind the design decision.

But it’s rare to see something quite as blatant as the above “This way to the end of the pier” sign on Brighton Palace Pier, attempting to persuade visitors to walk through the amusement arcade rather than along the walkways either side of the arcade. I don’t know how effective it is; conceivably some visitors might assume that it’s the only way to the end of the pier, but given how easy it is to see along the walkways either side, I’m not sure the deception is very convincing.

What’s the worst intentional mis-direction you’ve come across? And did it ‘work’?


  1. There are quite a few ‘longer routes’ that passengers on the underground are directed to. You can tell that the more adventurous have discovered short-cuts.
    The longer routes may well be better for congestion, but like ants, people start realising that as long as the sheep take the long way round, the goats can get in/out quicker via entrance instead of exit or vice versa.

    The worst misdirection I came across recently was cycling via a Dover ferry to France.

    Without publicising it to me and many port staff, someone had painted a big and long red line on the tarmac in the ferry port with signs instructing cyclists to follow the red line. So me and my pals did, avoiding the passport control, and ending up departing from regular vehicles, bypassing a freight barrier, and entering some administrative zone, whereupon when we halted, wondering if the red line was truly correct, the check point guard caught us up. He didn’t know about the red line either. So we retraced our tracks and joined the vehicular traffic as I’ve been used to doing on previous occasions.

    Somehow I think the red line was in preparation for zillions of cyclo-tourists travelling to/from the UK for the Tour de France event.

    A pity they’d painted the line without telling anyone. Cyclists are often given little thought when it comes to their negotiation of ferry ports (especially issues of which side of the lane one is supposed to cycle on).

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  3. I don’t think the sign was intended to trick people into “not seeing” the other way to the end of the pier. I think it’s the most succinct way to let tourists know that there is another exit. The biggest hurdle they would come across is the person who wouldn’t mind checking it out, but doesn’t want to have to come back out the way they came before continuing on. It’s just letting them know they will still get to where they’re going.

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