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Stupid Usability #52

Danger Will Robinson or not

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 5/19/2014

From the mind of Virgil Carroll, Principal Human Solutions Architect at High Monkey:

I was recently at a hospital in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area visiting a friend who was in residence for a time.  Since I was visiting my friend with a group of others and arrived first, I decided to wait on the rest in the designated waiting area.  While I was looking around the room, I happen to notice that this area was also sometimes used by families of patients in surgery…to sit in a comfortable environment while waiting through this stressful time.  As with many hospitals today, this particular facility had found a technological way to keep family members up-to-date on surgery progress using the monitor pictured below.

I was pleasantly surprised by this and how healthcare has used technology to help keep people better informed during a stressful time versus the way many of us grew up seeing it on tv…the doctor walking out of the operating area, removing his mask and talking with the family.  Since in the tv shows this was always done at the end of the surgery for dramatic effect (and actually in real world it is really not done), having a up to minute display to check was a great advantage.  I also happen to notice that the hospital has provided some levels of patient protection by using a Patient ID vs. their name.  As you can see from the monitor, different colors are used to highlight the stage of the surgery to give people a quick glance of where things are at…and this is where my stupid usability post comes from.  While I was watching the screen scroll down, I all of a sudden saw the below screenshot, with one of the surgeries displayed in RED.   Well as soon as I saw it I was quite alarmed as I assumed something must of went wrong during the surgery, for we all know the color RED is used for alerts, warnings and danger.

I quickly checked out the legend on the side of the screen to see what might of happen and what do my wondrous eyes see?  The surgery has been cancelled!

Are you kidding me?  So to indicate that a surgery is not going to happen and keep a room full of nervous families informed, some IT genius thought the best color to use for that particular notification is RED?  This right here is one of the main problems when IT people do not think.  Why would someone choose to use a color that is SO related to bad news to announce a benign fact such as a surgery being cancelled.  Where the family involved probably already knew this fact, did anyone ever consider the others who are sitting and waiting and may see the RED alert pop up?  Are you going to tell me that no one might see the big RED line and ‘freak out’?

Where using color is always a good practice when you are trying to call out specific information in a long list, we also need to realize that certain color patterns will always apply.  GREEN will always be representative of GO or GOOD, YELLOW will always represent CAUTION and RED will always be related to STOP or BAD.  So when you use technology to keep people informed and color to highlight information, make sure to follow AT LEAST these small practices in good color utilization…especially when someone’s life literally hangs in the balance.

P.S. I did wonder what color the hospital would use if a surgery took a bad turn, thankfully during my time in the waiting area, I did not learn what it was.


Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 5/19/2014 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments