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The Miss Universe Card Failed in One Glaring Design Principle – Being Understandable

The other night’s Miss Universe beauty pageant highlighted another example of how poor design can lead to awkward, high profile consequences. If you haven’t seen or heard, Steve Harvey mistakenly proclaims Miss Colombia as Miss Universe. Steve had to apologize and backtrack and name the real winner, Miss Philippines. As you’d expect, the internet exploded with internet memes and Twitter posts poking fun at Steve.

But really, Steve is a scapegoat for a poor card design. Take a look at what Steve was looking at:

I harp on UI and UX a fair bit already, and this just highlights the importance of clean, directed design. You can understand the need for the card to be easily editable so winners can be printed after votes. However, their design is not good, and did nothing to help Steve.

Let’s look at Dieter RamsTen Principles for Good Design, and see where the Miss Universe card fell short:

The biggest principles the card failed was being understandable and thorough down to the details. I don’t know if the pageant also reviewed what the card looked like with Steve beforehand, but a little training upfront could have helped. However, great design should allow anyone to understand a product with or without training.

Here’s something that may be a little more fitting:


Okay, so I’m still not a designer. However, this took five minutes in PowerPoint, and it’s got a clearer message as to who won. The eyes follow a logical and natural progression from top to bottom with who won.

Point is, UI and UX extend beyond technology of websites and applications. They’re crucial, too, in physical collateral whether that be brochures, business cards, and even pageant winner cards. See this bathroom door as another example.

How would you design the card for Miss Universe? Any other poor designs you’ve seen, and you think you could design something better?

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