Miss Universe card redesigned for better UX

On Sunday night, the 20th of December, the Miss Universe pageant was broadcast on live TV to over 10-million viewers. I haven’t traditionally followed this event, but I woke up Monday in Australia to see #MissUniverse2015 trending on Twitter. I didn’t think too much about it until I was browsing my feed and saw someone mention Steve Harvey had made a mistake by announcing the wrong winner at first.

Now, my curiosity was piqued, so I began searching the hashtag. I discovered it was true, that a mistake had been made with the announcement of the winner. As a result, Steve was, unfortunately, attacked by the brute force that is Twitter. Well, some people were understanding that it was an honest mistake, while other people were very critical and mean. Some were very light-hearted and made jokes. However, at the end of the day, Harvey is still human, and deserves kindness, respect and support in the aftermath of this mishap. The good news is it’s been reported Miss Universe organisers are happy to have Steve back in the future.

Harvey showed great humility by accepting responsibility. Although, after seeing a photo of the card with the results, I don’t blame Harvey at all for making a mistake. It was a very confusing design and easy to misinterpret that information.

In my line of work, there is something called ‘user experience’ design (UX design). The whole aim of UX design is to design with the user in mind. You are designing for the user. It is the user who is using the product, so you want to make sure it is easy for them to use. User experience isn’t just limited to graphic design, web pages or mobile apps, it’s also related to just about anything you interact with. A chair, a restaurant, an appliance — are all designed for the user to have a certain experience.

The importance of the show card being well designed cannot be underestimated. The whole show, and all the anticipation that had built up hinged on the results on that card. That card cannot be an afterthought. So many details went into the Miss Universe show and the card must be no different. I don’t think the Miss Universe Organisation will make the same mistake in the future, as this situation brought this UX problem to their attention.

Let’s analyse their current card.

Miss Universe 2015 — Elimination card
  1. The heading has a lot of issues. To start with they spelt ‘elimination’ wrong. Secondly, I don’t think ‘elimination’ is even a good title for the card. It’s a poor title because this card doesn’t just have the people being eliminated, but the winner also. Additionally, I’d question if ‘elimination’ is the best word in general. The 2nd and 1st runner-ups are still winners, they just didn’t come in first place. Thirdly, I think the heading has more information than is actually needed. This isn’t all going to be read out — so it can be simplified.
  2. When I first saw ‘3 to 1’ I was confused as to why it was on the card and what it meant. I later realised the intention was for the results to be read from the contestant who came third to the contestant who came first. However, this is confusing because they are not using ‘3rd place’, ‘2nd place’ and ‘1st place’ conventions. They are using ‘2nd runner-up’, ‘1st runner-up’, and winner. They don’t use a numbered list for the results either so it’s very easy to make a mistake. If you have to spend time to think about what this piece of info means, it’s most likely not going to be heeded. It’s also very easy to ignore as if it was just a code in the header.
  3. This bit of writing easily dominates the card, being the centre of the main content. It would be very easy to just to see the words ‘2nd’ and ‘1st’ and assume that meant 2nd and 1st place. When you’re reading something off a card, combined with a little bit of nerves and pressure, it would be very easy just to see those numbers stand out.
  4. ‘Miss Universe 2015’ down the bottom and removed to the right, could easily be mistaken as branding, although poor branding at that. Although this is technically only intended for the presenter to view, that doesn’t mean that Miss Universe’s own logo and colours couldn’t be used. I’m not sure how much money was spent on developing the Miss Universe brand, but it’s ideal to use in everything the organisation produces to reinforce their identity.
  5. ‘Philippines’ is so small and cast off to the bottom right of the card. It would be easy to not pay attention to this as if it was just unnecessary fine print in the footer. Why does the winner of the whole contest get such a tiny space on the card that is barely noticeable? Why is it aligned so far away from the rest of the info which would cause it to lose prominence and require looking all over the card to piece together the info? In such an intense and climatic moment if the info is not clear and all over the place, a mistake is going to be made.

With all this in mind, I redesigned the card to what’s below.

Miss Universe 2015 — Results card — redesigned by Heidi Helen Pilypas

I changed the heading to simply say ‘results’. I also found out what typeface the Miss Universe Organisation uses in their wordmark logo and I incorporated this into the design. I used Miss Universe’s shade of pink and added glitter to go with their sparkle theme.

Knowing that this card is printed in advance and stickers are stuck on with the results, I divided the card into equal sections — with the results — one under the other — in the order they would be read out, and with room for the labels to be stuck.

I made ‘winner’ extra bold and a different colour so it would stand out and have the most contrast. That would not be missed by the reader. I did the squint test and adjusted accordingly so the most important info stood out.

Down the bottom, I made this section specifically for branding. I had to recreate their wordmark since I couldn’t find a vector available online. I added ‘2015’ as well.

I didn’t add any instructions that would be easy to miss in a hurry. I just made it as clear and simple as I could, so it would be understood quickly. I even designed a matching sparkling back for the card. If I had time, I would have even designed a matching envelope.

Miss Universe 2015 — Results card —front side — redesigned by Heidi Helen Pilypas
Miss Universe 2015 — Results card — back side — redesigned by Heidi Helen Pilypas

So, there you have it! What are your thoughts? Is there anything else you’d improve if you were the designer?

In closing, I’ll leave you with this tweet. I couldn’t agree more.