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This photo is from the fueling station I visited today. Out of the pretty cluttered space in front of me, I was only interested in the number '4', as that's what I need to reference to make my payment at the counter inside. Other information is also useful, but not to me/ my usecase.

This has happened with me a few times, as there is no fixed spot for these numbers. They seem to move around all over the place.

The number '4' is relatively large, but somehow it seems to blend into the background. I searched for it for a few seconds, saw and filtered out a lot of irrelevant information and then finally spotted it. Is there a better way to make this information more prominent? I mean, of course if you increase the size or change colour it would be more visible, but what else can be done to make it more visible in a cluttered space?

Or is it just me who can't find the number '4' in this photo in the first glance?

  • 1
    Took me some time to find it...
    – xpy
    Apr 8, 2016 at 9:51

3 Answers 3


The number 4 applies to the whole pump unit, but this relationship isn't clear at all. Ideally the pump number should be outside the pump in a way that makes it clear that it labels the entire unit.

A very crude example of what I mean:

enter image description here

  • Fully agree here, my only concern in that it's also more "demanding". Attaching a new panel is time consuming and might not be the best tradeoff. Apr 8, 2016 at 14:49
  • 1
    @alexbouchard Yes, however they did attach a new panel to highlight the Pay@Pump option. Why go to this trouble when other elements are so badly designed? Could marketing have made a deliberate decision to place the pump number in such an obscure place? An unclear pump number does nudge people to consider paying at the pump (arrgh, I don't know what number to say at the till, oh, I can just pay here and avoid embarrassment). You won't find it until you pay close attention to the pay@pump option, indeed it is directly below the place where you get your receipt, so you only see it after paying.
    – Franchesca
    Apr 10, 2016 at 8:17

Some thoughts

What could make something stand out?

  • Different size
  • Privileged Location
  • Standout Color
  • More "Movement". (e.g: lights changing on and off as in a electronic billboard)
  • Alignment
  • etc.

These characteristics has to be analyzed within the context they are in.
For example, if you are in Las Vegas everything it's shinny so it's very difficult that something stands out for it shininess, that would need something else to stand out.

In other words, you have to analyze what's the "common factor" to discard what would be less effective to start with. Some I can notice here:

  • All the mini signs are clutched within its container or have a lot of content in it. Also everything is close. It's like everything is saturated.
  • The size of the fonts goes front little to medium. But there's anything with a really big difference in font size.
  • All the signs have the same shape => rectangular-ish. There's not any triangle, trapezoid, circle, etc.

A possible improvement

Having to use just the same type of "stickers", thus discarding the use of lights and additional structures, I could think of something with the following characteristics:

  • Considerably bigger than all the font size there.
  • Using circle forms instead of squares
  • Locating it in the center of a "blank" space.
  • Adding a "n°" reference that might be helpful. I don't really know the term for each "pump station" (non-native speaker here), if it's short it could replace the n° to be more explicit and clear.

enter image description here


Totally agree, I feel like the best option would be to isolate it.

enter image description here


  • This is better, but I am guessing that space is kept empty for other reasons. I am thinking if they could use a shape breaking flag or something, which could stand out from the crowded space... might work.
    – Adnan Khan
    Apr 8, 2016 at 12:01
  • Yeah, not sure of the constraints here. Isolating it however seems pretty viable to make it stick out :) Apr 8, 2016 at 12:04

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