I’ve been a season ticket holder at the University of Denver’s Magness Arena for over 15 years. We attend almost every men’s hockey game of the season, and every game, there is always an issue in my section where people will show up and get into an argument about someone being in their seat.
I sit in Section 18 and in this section, the majority of the seats are filled with other season ticket holders who have also had their seats for many years. Whenever this seat confusion begins, it can be a real distraction from the game. And usually after we let the people argue for a few moments, one of the season ticket holders shouts, “Check the section, this is 18!”
Since I started studying User Experience Design, I realized that the reason this always happened so frequently in our section is that Section 17 is almost completely sold to the general public, and the sign is an ugly example of a false signifier.

Let’s see how these signs affect the user experience of visitors to the arena.

Section Sign at the Corners of the Arena

At the corners of each section, you are able to access three sections. One which is directly in front of you as you enter the section, one which is to the right and one which is to the left. As you look at this sign, which section do you think is in the middle? Which one is to the left or right? Now, take a look at the arrows I’ve added to the next image to see how this simple sign has created a false signifier.

The arrows show the direction from the sign for the given section

When approaching the sign, it makes it look as though the middle section is section 17, the section to left is 18 and the section to the right is 19. But as you can see from the arrows I’ve added to the image, the placement of the numbers on the sign are misleading.

To add further insult to injury, there are no smaller signs as you approach each section and head down the stairs to give you an indication that you are in a certain section. And though there are small signs to indicate the section as you look up, they are at a level which can be easily blocked by a person standing, waiting for game play to stop before heading to their seat.



Now that it has been more than 20 years since the arena was built, I wonder if the person who designed the signs has noticed that they cause issues.

What do you think? Have you ever been somewhere with very misleading signs?