Saturday, June 22, 2013

Finding the Right Way to Say No

Writing copy that tells people what they can't do is hard, and the effort that organizations put into finding the right way to say unpleasant things says a lot. 

When Wegmans was building its new store on East Avenue in Rochester, the word on the street was that there would be an underground parking garage for customers. There is indeed a parking lot under the new store, but it's for employees. Here's how everyone found out: 

The main parking lot is cramped beyond belief; the blunt boilerplate language that drivers encounter when they try to enter the underground lot only exacerbates the sense of frustration. 

Here's a more successful example. 

Yesterday in Flower City, Rochester's annual jazz festival opened. Here are the signs that organizers put up to alleviate cutting in at pre-concert ticket lines: 

This sign, while a little wordy, does much to send a positive message, even as it discourages people from doing something they might very much want to do (the lines for the festival events are all insanely long). It reminds everyone that the festival is about having a good time and asks that people respect the experience. It also uses key words that emphasize inclusivity: "good vibe," "friends," and, the magic word, "Please."