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Poor Design = Poor Outcomes: From the Jeep Grand Cherokee to the Space Shuttle

You trust companies to put safe products into the marketplace, but that doesn't always happen. From time to time, unsafe or poorly designed products make it to market, with the potential to cause serious injury or death. By no means is this a new phenomenon, as you will see in the recent examples below.

Actor Anton Yelchin

Yelchin's tragic death came about from being crushed by his Jeep when he thought it was in park. Now his vehicle and more than 1.1 million others are part of a major recall due to a design flaw. The way in which the shifter and overall user interface has been designed, drivers may erroneously believe the vehicle is in park when it really isn't, causing the vehicle to roll out of place.

Fabuloso Household Cleaner

Here is a packaging design fail. Fabuloso, a basic household cleaning agent, poses a risk to children because the packaging looks very much like a soft drink. But it's not just children who could be in danger. Some adults have also mistakenly grabbed the cleaner, thinking it was something to drink because of the cheerful label and bright colors.

Confusing Medical Chart Software

Problems with electronic medical chart software contributed to a young cancer patient's death. It was not because of the chemotherapy or the cancer itself that she died, but because the software was so confusing that the nurses forgot to give her the IV fluids she was supposed to have for three days prior to treatment.

The Space Shuttle Challenger

An information-poor PowerPoint-style briefing may have contributed - though we recognize that this is a very big historical subject open to analysis and interpretation - to the space shuttle Challenger's explosion. The slides were so full of bullet points and so low on actual information that there were misunderstandings about the debris that had earlier hit the shuttle and the actions that should have been taken.

The Right UX is Important for Product Safety

UX, the shortened version of the term user experience design, plays a big role in how safe something may be. User interfaces that are confusing can contribute to illness, injury, and even death, simply because people do not understand how to use something properly. Companies that fail to spend enough time ensuring that their UX is the right one for consumers could find themselves liable for preventable problems.

These problems include issues like cars rolling away because they were not in park, or people drinking cleaner when they thought it was soda - injuries and deaths that can be avoided with careful UX design, sound engineering, and executive decision-making that prioritizes consumer safety over profit.

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