Monday, May 19, 2008

It's all about the DESIGN and a better USER-CENTRIC EXPERIENCE

Recent concerns about belting up in mini-buses and rear-seat passengers of cars is something reminiscent of what happened to our dragon boaters the other time, where a decision to NOT wear their life-jackets were taken because it is more of a hindrance to their performance, overriding safety concerns. In the latest news to hit the dailies, concerns were brought up by the transport provider operators about the cost factors that is involved in fixing up seat belts for every one of their passengers. It was definitely more than safety concerns up their minds when they added that any rise in costs due to this requirements, if it were to be made mandatory, would be passed on to the consumers.

And the consumers or payers, being mostly the parents of these young children, who are the more susceptible victims in any crash accidents, were of course unhappy with this cost concerns, what with the already rising cost of living that seems to plague everyone here. Could there then be something that could be done to allay both parties?

Well I thought that perhaps, just like my post regarding the dragon boaters, something could be done, in the context of design, about this. Could a design be made that is both cost effective and reliable? Could we redesign the design of the current seat belts in buses, rear seat passengers, and other vehicles, to be of something that perhaps is something that the potential users themselves would find it easier to use, and without feeling or having an inkling of the usual hassle that comes along with the older, more 'restrictive' design. I do agree that one of the key hurdles is actually the mindset, and perhaps the user-experience, that is usually associated with using a seat belt! One of it being a hassle, restrictive and 'uncool' perhaps. But how come is it possible for passengers in planes to be told to put on their belts by the mere blinking of the 'please belt-up' signs in planes? I mean can we do something to sort of ensure that the mental model and perhaps the experiences of using the seat belt be more pleasant, and one of safety and reliability, of one that would assuage the fears of loved ones, so that if they happen to read any news on accidents, the reliability of the belts are not in question and they would be more relief-centric than otherwise.

Perhaps more campaign, i mean Singapore is well known with their campaigns too, something along the ones done by the Malaysians authorities to encourage their motorcyclists to put on a proper helmet whilst they are riding. Using real anecdotes from real life surviving accident victims or family members, together with real and perceived imagery of what the accident victims would go through, the messages, I guess, do create more impact, in more ways than one! Could we do a similar one, I mean, if we can come out with gory imagery on cigarette packs, can;t we just come out with something better, or perhaps be more creative, in promoting the use of seat belts?

I guess what we need here, besides a better seat-belt design, is an effective paradigm shift, that could perhaps be more user-experience-centric, whilst at the same time, be made to be less 'campaigny' in nature!

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