by Jason Snell
Why interaction design is important
So the false missile alert in Hawaii over the weekend is a perfect example of why design matters, at every level.
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
In Mailchimp… you are asked to manually type in the word “DELETE” as a confirmation for deleting a template (an action a tiny bit less consequential than sending out a ballistic missile launch alert).
That menu is a really dangerous bit of interface design and adding an “oopsie, we didn’t mean it button” doesn’t help. The employee made a mistake but it’s not his fault and he shouldn’t be fired for it. The interface is the problem and whoever caused that to happen — the designer, the software vendor, the heads of the agency, the lawmakers who haven’t made sufficient funds available for a proper design process to occur — should face the consequences. More importantly, the necessary changes should be made to fix the problem in a way that’s holistic, resilient, long-lasting, and helps operators make good decisions rather than encouraging mistakes.
A sleepy employee did not cause this alert. It happened because whomever paid for, designed, and approved this interface didn’t give design a moment’s thought. The creators of this system are complicit in its complete failure.