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Published on January 22nd, 2018 | by Emergent Enterprise


The UX That Almost Ended the World

Is the last thing we see on this earth going to be a push notification? That’s what it seemed like for many people in Hawaii as they received the now famous January 13 alert, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” No doubt that the experience leaves the general public in total panic and that is of utmost concern. Who knows how some people could have reacted all due to a false alarm?

But how did the State of Hawaii’s Emergency Alert System even allow this calamity to happen? It’s a case of a very important procedure being executed by human beings using a legacy system with a software that has a poor user interface. All of these variables are a recipe for disaster – or near disaster.

Hawaii and other state and federal agencies are learning from this false alarm. What can businesses take away from it? Here are three steps that can be done right away:

  1. Check existing procedures and systems for misleading or confusing user experience. Are there vital steps in a process that can potentially mislead a user especially under pressure?
  2. Evaluate your systems and determine if they have fallen behind today’s technology or even the way people consume information. Are there steps or tasks that made sense five or ten years ago that are now completely out of place?
  3. Build in safeguards to those critical steps of a process that give the user a second chance to make the decisive move. We re-enter passwords all of the time. Why not have that step to avert a nuclear missile alert?

There are many more lessons to be learned from the Hawaii missile scare, especially in regards to user interface design, but a good system check is a good first step. How do your legacy systems match up to today’s users and technology? Check now before you scare the heck out of your company.

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

About the Author

The Emergent Enterprise (EE) website brings together current and important news in enterprise mobility and the latest in innovative technologies in the business world. The articles are hand selected by Emergent Enterprise and not the result of automated electronic aggregating. The site is designed to be a one-stop shop for anyone who has an ongoing interest in how technology is changing how the world does business and how it affects the workforce from the shop floor to the top floor. EE encourages visitor contributions and participation through comments, social media activity and ratings.

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