Designers re-design Taxi TV; forget that pesky ad thing

August 16, 2010 by Dave Haynes

DOOH research consultant Bill Collins used Twitter to flag a piece from the New York Times on Saturday about the visual mess that is the screen design of Taxi TV, the little hybrid information, advertising and payment screens in NYC taxicabs.

A couple of principals from a design firm wrote an opinion piece about how “taxi video screens, introduced by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission in 2007 with the intention of providing useful information to riders, have turned into a loud and confusing visual stew of advertisements, entertainment and the occasional buried bit of information.”

Well, no, they haven’t turned into a stew. It started that way.

The designers suggest the whole thing needs a re-think, tidying up the font choices and de-cluttering the visuals. The results look great, and would be a huge improvement except for one thing … part of the scheme for these screens is additional income through advertising on what are called Personal Information Monitors. Any real re-design needs to factor in the stuff that needs to stay.

Taxi TV is now owned by electronic payment processing giant Verifone. The company is not in the advertising or content distribution business and figuring out the right formula for these screens will be a chore. With the percentage of smart phone users out there rising and rising, the logic of a crappy little screen in the back of a cab offering news and local information, supported by ads, is diminishing by the month.

I’m not in NYC cabs all that often, and this would be an improvement. But until the business model gets tweaked, the design needs to still factor in advertising.

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