B1 Intermediate US 80 Folder Collection
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There's this moment at the Oscars, right
before La La Land was mistakenly awarded Best

Picture, where you can really tell that whatever
Warren Beatty is looking at doesn't make

sense.
"For Best Picture..."
"You're impossible."
He knew something was wrong, but he wasn't
sure.

But here's an idea: what if better typography
could have prevented this whole snafu?

Let's walk through what that could have
looked like.

We know from this shot that the announcement
card looks something like this.

The card is serving two purposes: on one hand,
it's a beautiful souvenir for the winner,

and on the other hand, it's a cue card for
a very high-pressure public presentation.

So how do you make this easier to read in
front of 30 million live viewers?

Let's look at how the card compares to the
line that the announcer has to say.

We read things from top to bottom, but at
the top is “Oscars”... that's not useful

information for the people on stage... at
the Oscars.

"That's like a few milliseconds of extra time that
those presenters have to go through

when they're presenting, they have to go through all this information.
That's benjamin bannister, he's a graphic
designer who put together an alternate design

for the announcement card.
"It's like driving on the side of the road,
you literally have a few seconds to read all

the information on the signs, or else you're
going to make a wrong turn.”

'Best Actress' should be the first thing
on the page.

Make it a little easier to read, and now,
the presenters have a clear sign that they've

got the wrong card.
But this still treats the winner with the
same emphasis as the movie they appeared played

in, which, while it's nice to have, is really
just extra context.

You solve that by making the name of the winner
the biggest thing on the page.

If the presenters were given this card, one
of two things would have happened: their eyes

would have first read “Best Actress,”
or “Emma Stone”.

Not La La Land.
You can apply the same fix to the card that
prompted Steve Harvey to crown the wrong person

Miss Universe in 2015.
No bad typography, no confusion, no embarrassing
mix-up.

The consequences of bad graphic design extend
far beyond award shows.

In the fall of 2000, the supervisor of elections
for Palm Beach County, Florida was tasked

with designing a ballot with more candidates
than could fit on a single column.

It wound up looking like this — it was called
a “butterfly ballot” because of the way

the text occupied two columns.
If you were voting for Bush, this form made
enough sense — to pick the first candidate,

you punched in the first bubble.
But then, to vote for the second candidate
on the list, Al Gore, you had to punch in

the third bubble.
See the problem?
The Palm Beach Post estimated that over 2,800
Gore voters accidentally voted for Pat Buchanan.

"A number of voters here in Palm Beach County have filed lawsuits asking for a new election
because they claim they either voted for the wrong candidate or double punched their ballots
because of confusion over the ballot design."
Bush won Florida by a margin of 537 votes.
Better typography here arguably could have
changed US history.

Graphic designer Michael Beirut put together
this version of what that ballot could have

looked like.
It uses the same format, but consolidates
information horizontally, so that you can

fit all the same candidate names in the same
amount of space.

Instead of there being two conflicting visual
paths to follow, there's just one.

There's also a lesson here for public health.
When it comes to health, there's probably
no single piece of household typographic design

that's as common as this one: the orange
prescription bottle.

These have been around since just after World
War II, and they haven't changed much apart

from the addition of a child-safety cap in
the 1970s.

But they're not the easiest things to read.
Just look at how information is prioritized
here.

The pharmacy branding is often the first and
biggest thing on the label, which is fairly

unimportant information for the user.
The rest of the text on the label is small,
and it's all the same size and weight.

Even these confusing numbers, which the user
doesn't need at all, get the same amount

of emphasis as everything else.
On top of that, some key warnings are printed
on hard-to-read color combinations, like black

on dark red.
Put all of that on a curved bottle that you
have to rotate to read, and you're left

with a pretty unfriendly design.
A design student named Deborah Adler,
created a model for what a new and improved

pill bottle could look like.
She called it Clear Rx — she was inspired
after her grandmother took her grandfather's

medicine by accident.
And it's a common problem.
Experts estimate there are 500,000 cases per
year in the U.S. of people misreading prescription

bottle instructions.
In Adler's design, The branding moves to
the bottom, and the most important information

for the user is big at the top.
Adler also included color-coded rings, so
that the packaging clearly distinguishes between

users, not just between medications.
The extra surface area on the back allows
for space to be dedicated to warnings for

the user.
Target bought this design and rolled it out
in 2005 to positive reception.

But 10 years after that, Target sold its pharmacy
business to CVS, and the new pill bottle disappeared.

Stories emerged afterward that some users
had actually fished their old Target bottles

out of the trash because of how much they
liked them.

Others took to Twitter.
CVS has said that it's developing a new,
similar model — but it hasn't released

it yet.
As with a lot of designs, it's hard to notice
the things that are done well until they aren't

there anymore.
“I think it was a good moment to show people
and educate them on the fact that design does

matter.
And most people seem to forget, and say it's
not a big deal.

Until something like this happens.
Designers are there to prevent things like
this from happening.”

So would different typography have totally
changed outcomes in any of these cases?

Maybe.
But if you're Warren Beatty or Steve Harvey
or Al Gore — that's a pretty big “maybe.”

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Bad typography has ruined more than just the Oscars

80 Folder Collection
陳思源 published on January 15, 2018
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