Last week I was driving a rental car and faced a serious problem. I was about to pull into the gas station and I had no idea where the gas cap was located. I mentioned it to a friend in the passenger seat and she told me it was right on the dashboard. It sure was and I felt really dumb. Many newer cars have an arrow that points left or right as you’ll see in the sample at right.
Now that I know this trick, I immediately started looking at the dash of other vehicles to see if the answer has always been in front of me. On a vehicle that is more than 15 years old, I found that there is an arrow along with words that spell it out quite clearly (at left). Yet on another vehicle that is more than ten years old, there is no indication at all (see below). The good news is that most new cars should have an arrow and this would apply to rental cars so you should be in luck the next time you’re driving a rental car.
How can you put something like this into the designs you create? Can you add some functional element such as the gas cap arrow to help people viewing your design? While there are some situations where these things don’t appear, even something like a logo can implement “hidden” elements. The FedEx logo is a perfect example of this as it contains a hidden arrow that describes what the company provides.