The Design of the Miss Universe Card was Fine
David Kadavy

I’m going to totally disagree with you on this. I believe this design is a complete failure in that it did not take into consideration the context and role of the end-user. The word “empathy” is used a lot nowadays. This design had no empathy whatsoever.

The challenge that this design needed to address, was to help a (potentially poorly-prepped/practiced) announcer complete the task of accurately explaining the results of the contest. It could be argued that this one task was the only thing that needed to go perfectly because it was the very reason that everyone in that room had spent a bunch of time enduring however many hours in the run up to this news. This was an important design challenge.

In order to effectively address that challenge, the designer should have taken into consideration the announcer, or “announcer persona” if you will. The announcer must use the designed material to complete their task while simultaneously trying juggle a myriad of other tasks that include but are not limited to: remembering to smile, knowing which camera to look at, remembering to hold a microphone in one hand close enough to his face so people can hear him, following musical, prompter and timing cues etc.

When looking at the design challenge from this perspective, it become clear that this is not simply a matter of coming up with a layout that represents accurate information design. This was a design challenge that required leveraging the information design of the results as a key component in the holistic user experience challenge that an announcer faces while trying to do their job. In this context, the design was crap.

What might have been other possible solutions? Here are just a few quick ideas that might have done a better job at actually helping the announcer succeed, if the designer had stopped to consider their user.

1. This could have been written out as a literal script for the announcer to read. The design could’ve been conceptualized as a tiny printed teleprompter that allowed him to read the exact phrases that the judges expected him to say. You know, a script — like most stage performers are given when the stakes are high.

2. If that was deemed to difficult for some reason, there could’ve been graphic representations of the more typical framing of the winner structure next to the competition-specific “runner up” nomenclature — such as 3rd place, 2nd place, 1st place / winner. Anything that would’ve helped the announcer transform this odd sequence of information from competition insider double-speak into the phrases he was responsible for uttering — without having to think so much.

Maybe I’m biased by my tech experience. For me, design has become a practice that obsesses over the minute details of user on-boarding, task completion and conversion optimization. UX, CX, these terms are getting so trendy they may actually be seeing a bit of a backlash.

Every day, people at tech companies lose jobs because their “OK” designs don’t convert users or drive MAUs better than a competing design did. Good user experience design makes a difference. Good user experience design never thinks it’s good enough. Good user experience design tries to help the user succeed.

To say that criticizing the Miss Universe card design is “crying wolf”, is to mistake accurate information design for effective user experience design. In this case, the information design needed to serve a user-centered scenario. It required more than just accuracy of information but usability of that information. The stakes were high enough to demand this level of sophistication from the designers. I see a real wolf.