As most designers do, I’ve always enjoyed taking note of the little things that make a design in the wild good, great, or even invisible to the public. I’ve stressed the importance of good design to non-designers who although they appreciate my passion, just don’t seem to care as much as I do. However over the last month, the importance of good design has made its way into the media and it’s great to see people recognizing its importance.
So, are we okay?
Let’s jump right into the scariest example of poor design: Hawaii’s False Ballistic Missile Alert. By now we’ve all heard about it and heard how poor design was the root of the incident. But even after it was made known that poor design allowed the employee to click the wrong link, I’ve still heard people blame him for the incident and for “not having common sense.” So, let’s take a look at the list of templates the employee could click on…
This is the screen that set off the ballistic missile alert on Saturday. The operator clicked the PACOM (CDW) State Only link. The drill link is the one that was supposed to be clicked. #Hawaii pic.twitter.com/lDVnqUmyHa
— Honolulu Civil Beat (@CivilBeat) January 16, 2018
I could talk all day about ways that this list is poorly designed, but let’s highlight a few ways that the design could be improved:
- Using a consistent naming convention. “…DEMO TEST” “DRILL – …” “1. TEST…” all mean the same thing, but it gets awfully confusing when you’re scanning for only the drill templates.
- Divide the list into two: Drill Templates and Emergency Templates. Don’t give the employee an option to click on any template for emergencies if they’re looking for a drill.
- Color coordinate the list items by urgency, green for drills, yellow for alerts, and red for “you’re all going to die.”
You get the idea… the real lesson here is to take the extra minute to properly name and organize your files. Nobody likes to hunt for the file that they, or their colleague, started a week ago and forgot to properly name.
State of the, what?
More recently in the news was a light-hearted “oopsies.” See amythimg wromg below?
Mistakes happen, but a typo in “State of the Uniom” on a ticket going out to all those in power is a real doozy. Today’s lesson: don’t forget to run the trusty ol’ spell checker before packaging your files for the printer. Also, hey Congress, let us get a stab at designing that stub!
And the latest newsworthy design topic has popped in and out of the news for some decades now. Since 1928, the Cleveland Indians have had numerous characterized Indian logos on their hats and jerseys, and as far back as the 70s, the team has been faced with protestors to drop the logo. The team and the the MLB have finally listened (partially), and starting in 2019 the Chief Wahoo logo will be removed from on-field jerseys. Good on them!
As brand developers, we know how important it is to do your research before designing a logo. Not only to gather inspiration, but to also discover deeper meanings, find out what’s been done before, and to learn what to stay away from. Just because a red-faced Indian may not be offensive to you, it doesn’t mean it isn’t offensive to others. Be thoughtful of others, and not only when designing logos.
FINALLY!!! (This is not a culture jam, btw. The real deal.) ✊🏽 “The logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball” https://t.co/0z10JEd1SO
— Dr. Adrienne Keene (@NativeApprops) January 29, 2018
So there you have it! Design has made a big splash in the news recently, and there are a lot of valuable lessons that both us designers and non-designers alike can take away from them.