How would you have avoided the Miss Universe 2015 mistake?

  • In case you missed it, over a week ago Steve Harvey incorrectly announced Miss Colombia as winner of the Miss Universe 2015 pageant. He later apologized and corrected himself; Miss Philippines won.

    Harvey essentially blamed his cue card for being confusing, and I don't blame him for blaming said cue card:


    Assume that it's not a publicity stunt (I don't think it is):

    If you're a program director of the pageant, how would you prevent this mistake? [Added Jan 1] In other words, how do you ensure the announces the correct winner and then immediately announces the first runner-up?

    I'm assuming most would re-design the cue card (I would), but that doesn't have to be the solution.

    Here's some requirements and restrictions, though:

    1. The host may not have a teleprompter or large cue cards held by a stage hand (because the finalists are onstage with the host).
    2. The host must refer to the third-place contestant as "Second Runner-Up" and the second-place contestant as "First Runner-Up" (though they don't necessarily need to be referred to as such on paper).
    3. Once the final three contestants are determined, the host announces the Second Runner-Up who then leaves center-stage. Once the final two contestants are determined, the host announces [edit: the winner, referring to her as as Miss Universe YYYY, and then immediately names the First Runner-Up.]

    Assume that

    1. Any printed information that's seen by the host will only be seen by the host until The End of Time.
    2. [Edit again] Over the previous three pageants (2012-2014), there has been no commercial break between the announcement of the Second Runner-Up and the winner. In other words, there's usually not sufficient time to hand a separate cue card to host when only two contestants remain.

    I have my solution (I'll post it) but I'm curious to see what others plan.

    On your third point, from the format of Miss Universe announcements, the host announces the winner directly, and the first runner-up is assumed/announced right after.

    I'd have avoided it by cancelling the entire spectacle that is televised pageants.

    I feel like the problem is that we say 2nd Runner Up ("2nd" == "3rd place"), 1st Runner Up ("1st" == "2nd Place") and then the winner. Why not call a spade a spade and let the numbers and words actually reflect what they are.

    Actually that cue card in the photo does not look particularly confusing at all. It says "MISS UNIVERSE 2015" with the largest bold letters, followed by "Philippines". Although maybe if all eyes are on the host (or the host perceives it that way) then perhaps the host might feel confused...

    *Errare Humanum Est*, right? To the very least: avoid any reactionary change. Everything was set sensibly enough to avoid confusion as @izhaki said. First off, Murphy's Law aiding: whatever is in place there will *always* be a mistake some day, it's only a matter of time. Next, unless totally misfit, keeping the same procedure is the best way to get accustomed to it, know its flaws (if any) and react appropriately if a mistake happens. Training helps greatly. In this case the very problem is not more *technical* rather than *human* and its repercussions.

    Wouldn't the simplest solution be to have three separate cards, with the positions of the contestants on each? I can see how he made a mistake using the one card.

    In general, this is a clear case of "real writers rewrite to avoid the problem." I agree that separate cards is trivial to do and hard to improve upon. It's a script. Write it as one.

    @coderworks the issue is that the way it is laid out not the titles. It leads one to ignore the right hand section entirely. If you have ever looked at studies showing how people read through newspapers, magazines and newspapers, they typically show that left to right reading will start from the top left and tend to ignore the bottom right.

    @coderworks If you assume that the announcer didn't notice that extra information at the bottom right, he would have processed the two lines only, leading to the assumption that 1st means winner. It makes sense once you analyse it. But good design should be interpreted intuitively and without the need to stop and analyse.

    @coderworks As someone who didn't pay any attention to this at all when it happend (I think I saw the headline in the times, but that's it), my first thought when seeing the screenshot was "So he confused Columbia and USA?". Just to provide an anecdote to the more scientific explanations given by others of why that's not unrealistic in a stressful situation (or on first glance).

    @coderworks nobody reads the bold print!

    Here's a modified image showing how Harvey apparently (and understandably) scanned the card. If you watch a clip of the initial announcement of Miss Colombia as the winner, Harvey doesn't mention Miss Philippines as the supposed first runner-up at all.

    an article on theHustle also covered that topic and made some interesting suggestions

    That article doesn't address the traditional announcement order and the comments are depressing / enraging, but there is a good point about Harvey's right thumb possibly blocking the "Miss Universe 2015" section while he's holding the card. He did actually hold the mic in his left and the card in his right.

    Wait, they actually refer to the people only by their country of origin – no names, no “representing”? That’s worse than in sport competitions (where country may also be “Red Bull”, “Ferrari” etc.) or many televised talent shows (where people “just” lose their surnames).

    Maybe they could use some paint/cover/scratching mechanism to ensure the names would be revealed properly and in correct order? Example: "Scratch point 1" would reveal: "3rd place: Japan" and so on..

    Why not have 2 separate envelopes. One envelope saying who is the 2nd runner up that's all. In the second envelope have the winner's name. And once these are announced we already know who the 1st runner up would be.

    The host has a mic in one hand and a cue card in the other. Unless you add a podium to the stage or give the host a hands-free mic, he can't really open or scratch a card or shuffle multiple ones.

    Can it be a digital screen? an iPad perhaps that only shows what the reader needs to read at the time?

    @Mooz, the host could have a tablet. Though the layout, ordering, and writing of the information would still be more important.

  • enter image description here

    The design should be as simple as possible so that the host doesn’t waste any cognitive load in figuring out who each winner is. If there is any visual element that is not helping convey who those two winners are, then it becomes a distraction that will increase the room for error. Minor distractions, but when not done correctly all the little things like font size and spacing and alignment add up.

    As an idea, instead of vertical lists we can separate the winners out side by side, aligning it with the hosts natural reading direction (while this is in English), and giving the text as much space as possible so it becomes impossible to conflate the two categories nor countries.

    In the context of this announcement, the first runner up becomes the least important title among the winners, announced after the Miss Universe winner, and is given smaller prominence to reflect that. Some people have mentioned or suggested that the order of the winners should be as they are (so 2nd runner up, then 1st, then the winner) but remember that this card is not supposed to be a representation of the pageant winners, merely a tool for the host to do their job.

    Training for events like this is obviously important as plainclothes and others mentioned, but there should also be nothing wrong with coming up with a design so clear that anyone could see it for the first time and not have to think twice.

    Edit: I gave the first runner up more prominence as I learned the host does indeed announce that title after the winner, and spelled out the ordinal numbers as Basil suggested to allow for more natural reading for the host.

    I like this one, but I am not sure why everyone has to put the country name below the text. How about 2nd Runner Up is USA (all on one line). This avoids any ambiguity.

    @JonH Because SE has a tendency toward copy cat answers ...

    @JonH the 2-column approach works better with shorter multiple lines since you have the vertical space, but generally I agree with you, the country can be to the right or below the title almost interchangeably.

    I like this treatment, but the First Runner-Up section is too far away from the winner section and too small. I think that a user who's unfamiliar with the design and/or under duress would either a) not see the text or b) see it then dismiss it because its smaller text. A person who's visually focusing on (reading) the Miss Universe section cannot physically see the first runner-up section; our visual focus really is that narrow. You could have an arrow leading from Miss Universe to First Runner-Up.

    To be clear, the host announces the first runner-up immediately after announcing the winner. He and everyone else can deduce who she is after the winner is announced, but having the first-runner prominently shown on the card is a reminder to announce her.

    Was just about to respond, thanks for clarifying. I didn’t watch the show, so my assumption was the host announced the 2nd runner up, then the winner and thats it (what my concept is based off of). For sure, if he has to announce the first runner up afterwards, a larger font size and/or arrow would make sense.

    I would suggest spelling out the ordinals "Second" and "First" rather than use the digits `2nd` and `1st` in this otherwise excellent design. Seeing the number makes us think of ranks and ordering which do not apply here. The card’s purpose to help the announcer announce, so spelling out the words should help them roll off the tongue.

    @JonH Separating the lines helps the announcer as each announcement is done in **two parts**, title and then winning country. The announcers usually use bated breath and dramatic pause between the parts for rising tension and flair.

    @BasilBourque Good point on spelling out the ordinals! I think that approach makes sense.

    @JasonTavarez Please revise your illustration as you see fit, and edit your Answer to replace the old image and verbiage. Yours is the best design, and this page is likely to seen by a large audience because of the Miss Universe publicity.

    @JonH: Consider that the host might have a different sentence in mind, making "{place} is {country}" the wrong thing to say in that place. "And the 2nd Runner Up is the lady from the USA!" -- and your cue card becomes misleading.

    This design is the best looking, but even with the increased prominence of the second runner-up and modified spelling of "1st" and "2nd" it's not something that I would select, to be honest.

    @TimHuynh thanks for the input. Just to confirm, calling it a design implies some conclusion. Obviously, I wouldn't put this in an envelope as is, but I think there is a strong benefit imo to the ideas here (laying out the primary two winners from left to right, subtle visual cues to convey direction, giving the 1st runner up secondary focus, etc) which was what I was trying to showcase.

  • Design matters

    One clear problem in this case: No thought was given to the function of layout and typography. In the chaos and excitement of a big event, with all eyes on the host and a few dozen million people watching at home, it's easy to get flustered and read without thinking. Hence the running joke about news casters reading whatever comes up on the prompt. It's critical to design the information for absolute clarity.

    The design part is easy. There's only three key/value pairs, you know the order they'll be accessed in, and the data is relatively short and known to the reader. How about this:

    EDIT: apparently they announce 3rd, then winner, and 2nd is implied ... ( ಠ_ಠ )

    Proposed redesign of the Miss Universe 2015 results card

    The results are listed in the order they should be announced, in the words to be used, with adequate separation from one another, and the secret values are rendered in such a way that they are difficult to "spy".

    Don’t forget training

    It goes without saying that such a large event comes with a lot of things to prepare for. The climax of the whole thing is announcing the results. Whatever the design is, you need to make sure that anyone involved in that moment can do their task without thinking. Design can make the task more learnable, but you still have to rehearse with a mock-up.

    That's not the way they're announced, that's the whole problem.

    I would consider the training part to be the most important part of this answer. The training should happen using an identical design but with made up country names.

    I'd use color for the winner, and add a little crown icon. mixing up the runners up is not such a big deal, but the host should never be able to mistake the winner.

    That is assuming he knows what is Runner up :P

    @VitalyMijiritsky whatever the order, I think you get the idea. I'm glad to say I have no clue how the event goes down.

    @plainclothes I too, never know how this all happens. Only time I found out was because it made headlines lol... By the way, great answer. Although, I would more than likely still add a little more emphasis on the winner (like maybe a darker background)

    Training. If you want to be part of the event, you have to learn the language of that event.

    Like Steve Harvey, you've missed important information that's been written down: my requirements and restrictions explicitly state that the host announces the first runner-up immediately after announcing the winner. To be fair, they could be more concise, but for anybody in doubt, see how easy it is to forget or miss text?

    I would add some vertical lines to make the three groups into three boxes. It wasn't clear to me how the lines and bold/non-bold text were related to each other. Or at least remove the topmost horizontal line.

    The separator lines directly above each title look like lines where the person with that title is manually written on, like in a letter. That's confusing. If you want to get rid of that source of confusion you can put the text on one single line, or at the very least move the separators up a bit.

    Additionally I'd spell out `first` and `second`, rather then numbering them `1` and `2`.

    +1 for this answer because it is the one that both works and is simple to implement. i.e. Other answers below involve graphics or fancy layouts, and answer only the specific situation of reading out the winner, but this applies a simple rule that can be used across the board, i.e. *All cue cards should be printed in the order they are to be read*

    I was with you until the last comment. Professional performers can do quite a bit without rehearsing. I've played entire concerts with guys I've never met. Given that there is no international specification for awards announcements (like the one they have for music) I think good design should be enough. You're not going to take the extra hour to take Steve Harvey through the process of reading off of cards.

    @DaveKaye you definitely have to account for the trainee's availability. The demand on a celeb's time is going to be relatively high, but performers are used to rehearsing. The design should be clear and the training will have to be succinct, probably something that's sent ahead and easy to follow without guidance.

  • I honestly cannot recall any example that can be used to demonstrate as many cognitive principles.

    Red circle and arrow are my additions:

    The cue card, with a circle around the text '1st' and an arrow highlighting the visual separation between the runners up and the winner


    Priming is defined by Lidwell (2010)1 as:

    The activation of specific concepts in memory for the purposes of influencing subsequent behaviours.

    Although he speaks of purpose, spreading activation has it that the term is also used with relation to completely internal processes - like when in search for a tomato other red fruits stand out.

    A bowl of fruit and veg

    Someone who's about to announce a winner will be primed for something like '1st' or 'first'. So no wonder the 1st runner up was picked by the announcer.

    How we read

    It is natural to think that when people read things they read every bit of it. But this is far from how the brain works. Although it is a fairly recent theory (you could trace these concepts well back into the 50s), Mayer's multimedia learning model provides a good explanation of the process:

    Mayer's diagram of multimedia learning theory

    • When presented with words, our brain converts them from low to high level models. The visual features (lines, low level) and words (medium level model) matter not - it is their eventual semantic (high level) that is important.
    • The brain, as it does, takes every shortcut possible for the sake of cognitive economy.
    • Integration with existing knowledge happens when the stimuli models 'agree' with existing knowledge.
    • Integration is the aim.

    So we don't really read everything, we stop once the stimuli model makes enough sense to be integrated with existing knowledge.

    Also, as we read, the brain (again due to spreading activation) already forms an idea of what to expect:

    If it ain't broken...

    You know what's coming next, don't you? Had it been the full sentence, in an appropriate context, your brain might have hardly surveyed the rest of the sentence.

    This is why proofreading your own text is challenging - you already know the meaning of it all, so existing knowledge makes the text more integrable and you miss obvious mistakes; unlike a fresh-reader who really needs to make sense of things.

    So for someone primed for '1st', the '1st' alone is enough to satisfy the integration requirement.

    One way to solve this is by not front-loading the line with '1st'.

    Inattentional blindness

    Inattentional blindness (see this famous demonstration), asserts that when people are focused on a specific task they could become cognitively blind to what would otherwise be an obvious stimuli.

    So once the '1st' was picked, Inattentional blindness may have well kicked in.

    Here's yet another great demonstration:

    An image from WHODUNNIT - a video demonstrating how many details can change on a scene without us noticing.

    Gestalt principles

    Really, the cue card is all about an ordered list. But there's a clear violation of two gestalt principles here:

    • Continuity
    • Proximity

    Visual example showing the continuity and proximity gestalt principles of grouping

    If you present a list, you must maintain these principles. Does this look like a list to you:

    • Continuity

    Note that 'MISS UNIVERSE 2015' can be simply seen as branding. The actual winner is in really small text.


    To combat all these issues, I suggest:

    A image showing 3 rows, font goes from small to big, the first reads 'Runner up (second)', the second 'Runner up (first)', the third 'Winner'

    1 Lidwell, W., 2010. Universal Principles of Design, Second Edition, Revised and Updated edition. ed. Rockport Publishers.

    @lzhaki - I like these parameters and points you made and the sample design.

    +1 this is probably the best possible explanation of *why* the card was misread.

    Great psychology background info, but the resulting recommendation is a disaster! The first thing I want to read here is "WINNER!!!" ... but I have to wait ... so I scan back up to the hardest thing to find, which is the first to be announced and I say "Runner up, second" ... wait ... that's not right either ... Harvey fails again!

    I like your suggested fix, too. The other answers make _sense_ to a degree but I don't like the idea of presenting the information out of semantic order. You've presented it in semantic order, but in a manner that won't lead to confusion/mistakes when the announcer transforms the information into his lines. I think that's ideal.

    Great post altogether, but I must say that youtube video on inattentional blindness is an amazing demonstration.

    This! The only answer whichs goes throw the main concepts involved.

    Would you consider demoting in some way the "Runner up (first)" - since, even according to some of the principles you've outlined above, the first runner up here is so obvious it doesn't need to be said. It's the last one standing. Put it this way: "if it ain't the winner or 2nd runner up..."

    @PandaWood, if I'm honest, I wasn't giving to the redesign too much thought. I was just combating the issues I've mentioned. Personally, I think the winner is the first thing to draw attention (which is the most important thing), from there the announcer will have to scan upwards. These sort of things are already at a level where you probably want user testing rather than informed analysis.

    @Izhaki OK, that's a bit evasive though. Do you think my suggestion is worth considering, is really the question.

    @PandaWood, definitely something worth considering - can't really see a fault in it. I didn't mean to come across as evasive - on the contrary, I was apologetic for not following the problem solving process.

  • The first problem I see is the 1st Runner up versus just '2nd'. So I also refer to their placing in the title to make it a bit clearer.

    How about drawing them on a podium.

    It also has the benefit that in reading left to right you would say the names in the required order

                        Winner (1st)
                        +-------------------+ 1st Runner up (2nd)
    2nd Runner up (3rd) |                   | Colombia
    USA                 |                   +-------------------

    @AlexS Yes, I agree - better to do away with 'Runner up' all together. But the question states that the card has to indicate '1st Runner up'. You could put 3rd (2nd Runner up) to lower the importance of the 'Runner up' even more but it's at the risk of the announcer saying "In 3rd place is..." rather than "The 2nd Runner up is..."

    Adding a podium on a cue card? I am not sure if that would be a good idea. It would be confusing when you are already on air, live and stressed.

    Once again a graphic solution wins over anything that makes the presenter 'have to think'. It would be even clearer without any of the redundant and confusing "2nd Runner up (3rd) text"

  • Avoid using word/ phrase "Runner Up" as a Modifier coupled with Numeric Ranking

    What caused the issue.. the concept or language usage of "Runner up" ..

    It was less of an information design issue, and more of a Language/ Verbiage issue. He saw "1st" and the number 1 - First went into his head either he did not know the significance of "Runner Up" or it did not factor in given that he was reading the numeric: 1.

    If someone does not know what "Runner Up" means, then they'd confuse that with First place. I've seen it used more in Brit English than US.

    Even if they did hear/ know about "Runner Up", in popular usage, language & cultures the numeric 1, habitually points towards Winner; thereby the inherent mental conflict while on stage.

    Maybe thats why Harvey's American lingo confused 1st runner up with 1st place.

    To prevent future issues and not knowing who might be reading it out, lets assume that the person may not understand language use of "Runner Up".

    The "Runner Up" word may not be understood as a "modifier word" by everyone and people may end up seeing the numbers "1st" & "2nd" for what they are.

    So it should avoid modifier verbiage and be simple like this:

    • In the 3rd place the Second Runner up : Miss X
    • In the 2nd place the First Runner up: Miss Y


    • In the 1st place & our new Miss Universe 2016 is Miss ZZZZ

    PS: I'd eliminate the Runner up thing, but if they really want to have those words be SPOKEN in speech, i'd DECOUPLE it from the Index/ Rank numbers. Here's an updated answer with the optional "Italics" runner up section.

    Additional: It may be possible to change the order of 2nd and 1st/ winner if the organizers want the 1st place/ winner announced before the 2nd place, if thats what is needed for the Reader/ Host. But, a little bit of demarcation from 2nd & 3rd place holders by SPACE & SIZE will also help.

    Exactly! "Runner up" has never made much sense to me either.

    *lets assume that the person may not understand language use of "Runner Up"* <- But then you've already failed. That's the terminology for this event. The host's experience needs to be crafted to include careful training and adequate cues during the event. If he sees "3rd place" but the title is "runner up", he's more likely to fail.

    And they have chosen to get Harvey again :) . If they wish to have Global hosts come to the dias, the terminology might have to be more Global. PS: With specific to his goofup, this is why it happened - And no one here mentioned training him or teaching him but continue to re-insert the same confusing term.

    YES! It feels like they're trying to make the girls feel better for losing or something. It's completely useless to do 1st "runner up". The first loser is still a loser.

    @Nav It's supposed to make you feel better or some bullshit. You're not SECOND place. You're FIRST... after the winner.

    This answer isn't really appropriate for UX.SE. You're arguing linguistics on a site focused on design.

    @DanHenderson - UX & Design encompasses everything; font, words, clarity, lack of ambiguity, colors, size, shape, correct association and avoiding wrong disassociation. the numeric '1' even when not READ as language automatically DENOTES 1st place/ WINNER. Design does not allow confusing LABELING.

    @fractalspawn - Loser is the wrong thing to use here. 1st place/ rank: Gold, 2nd place/ rank: Silver, 3rd place/ place: Bronze. They are all winner ranks, but No. 1 gets the Crown. The whole RunnerUp modifier is numerically displaced scale. 1st Runner up = 1st after 1st place.. Confusing information modifiers.

    As I understand the whole format, "runner up" is the correct term because she becomes Miss U if the current winner fails in her duties. She truly is the 1st runner up in the sense that she's next in line.

    @plainclothes - The duties to be taken up the the "next in line" or "runner up" having nothing to do with the fact that a Number is an "Absolute Representative", while Next, After, 1 place after, 2 places after, 3rd from his right, 4th from the Window are "Relative modifiers" using "language verbiage semantics" - Absolutes are always easier and clear - less information overload - Your answer. What if I said your Seat in the Cinema or Train was "first after the 3rd row in the 4th coach after the first blue coach" - Or easier.. Coach no. 13. Done.. No RELATIVE MODIFIERS required. ABSOLUTES.

    @plainclothes - Thank you :) for your counter arguments, its making me think of more clear ways to express and improve the answer

  • Minimum Information Load

    I think on top of some of the good points already mentioned above such as layout & typography, minimizing the information would play a critical role.

    Even with the cue card that Steve Harvey was holding, just swapping the place of 1st runner up & Miss Universe would have solved the problem, as the trend is always to announce the 2nd runner up, and then the winner (Miss Universe in this case).

    Reducing the information load by showing only the information that is needed in the moment helps in minimizing the chances of error. Of course, the name of the 1st runner up should be mentioned in the cue card but not in the prime spot, as this is just to reconfirm who the winner is for the host (if needed), but he/she doesn't actively need the information.

    I would give preference to organizing the information in the order it needs to be retrieved over the conventional hierarchy.

    A conceptual layout enter image description here

    I'd also get rid of the background pattern on the cue card. If the purpose of the pattern is to make it harder for anybody to shine a light through the sealed envelope to read it before the announcement, then that pattern can be printed on the inside of the envelope and the backside of the cue card.

    It's Col**o**mbia not Col**u**mbia :)

    I wouldn't put "2nd runner up" at the top. The order should be "Winner", "Second prize" and "Third prize". The "Runner up" phrase doesn't really make much sense.

    @Nav: Given what the presenter is supposed to do with it (announce the 2nd runner up, then the winner), putting 2nd runner up at the top makes perfect sense.

    @kasperd I think that pattern is an artifact of how it's a picture of a picture (the fingers at the top also show the pattern)

    @ratchetfreak That sounds plausible.

    My vote, because of the sensible and logical move of demoting 1st runner up to almost nothing - since they are so obvious as the last one standing

    My eyes skimmed over the banner ad in the middle, sorry - I only see two entries.

  • There is a flawed mental model there. We do not need 2nd and 1st runner ups. It needs to be,

    • 3rd Position - Country
    • 2nd Position - Country
    • 1st Position - the winning Country.

    1st Runner Up is a confusing concept. You cannot have good UX with bad mental models.

    I agree. When I first glanced over the card my eyes went straight to "1st," and only after another second or two realized that wasn't the winner.

    @Salman - I've already posted and explained why RunnerUp causes confusion. What are you adding with this answer? Nothing.

    @AlexS Clarity and conciseness. You can learn a lot UX from this answer. It is short and clear.

    Your bullet list suggests a simple ranking which is not the case. From what little I know of beauty contests, the winner is a title, basically a year-long job position, with duties, responsibilities, and benefits. The runners-up are designated to replace the winner if unable to perform the duties. For example, Vanessa Williams as Miss America. So, such contestant winners are more akin to "President" and "Vice-President" than your "Best, Better, Good" ranking.

    @EugeneRyabtsev - I wrote that as an initial answer way before this one came in. It was enough as an answer but. - Then people wanted to understand the WHY? The WHY is what helps ground the answer. Additionally, there was this "Runner up" thing and the President/ VP thing, so I added that as "cherry on top"

  • Take a hint from the oscars

    Put the runners up on a cue card, with a mad-libs-style script to be read, the names of the contestants filled in at the last minute. The script concludes with "and the winner is...".

    At this point the host produces a gold envelope, marked with a little embossed crown. He opens the envelope, and reads out the name inside.

    Basically, you make your crutches part of the ceremony, and you highlight that even the host doesn't know until the envelope is opened. This highlights the drama, and makes it impossible to mistake a runner up for the winner.

    edit: I guess the actual ceremony is the other way around, but you could open the envelope first, and then read the cue card.

    Traditionally, the camera rests on the contestants as the runners-up and, eventually, the winner are announced. Using a sealed envelope would be moot unless a change is made and the camera alternates between the host and the five finalists as the winner is announced by the process of elimination. It's possible; just consider what the viewers would want.

    @Alex I think if you have a big gold envelope with a crown on it, it's hard to misinterpret. (Assuming they rehearse at least once).

    Note: The Oscars don't name runners up at all. They only list the nominees and one winner. There's no clue how the ordering went for the rest of them.

    Although, if the Oscars switched to the Miss Universe format, for a brief moment, Leo might actually win one...

    The Oscars' system doesn't seem to have really helped though now, does it!

    @curiousdannii Putting the script "and the oscar for ... goes to ..." on the card might have helped. That could have indicated to Dunaway that she wasn't holding the card for best picture (although it's no guarantee).

  • This is a very straightforward design problem...

    ...because the information to be presented is short, simple, and hierarchical.

    First, lay out design objectives:

    • Clear, unambiguous communication - The reader is likely to be under high stress and the cost of error is large. Fortunately, the information is simple and the reader is speaking the results in a specific order, so layout is quite simple.

    • Communicate narrative sequence clearly - Information should be presented exactly in the linear, narrative order.

    • Present information hierarchy logically - There are 3 chunks, each containing a place and a country. Each chunk needs to be visually separated because there is applause in between the announcements:

      • Chunk 1 (2nd runner up and country)
      • Chunk 2 (Winner)
      • Chunk 3 (1st runner up...this may or may not be announced)
    • Minimize distraction - The use of different font sizes or weights distracts the reader. The title is as important as the country, so render them with equal size and weight.

    • Use a clear, linear, natural reading layout - The announcement is made in English, so the most natural narrative layout is top-to-bottom. Asking the reader to process information left-to-right or, worse, in a non-linear fashion (as in the original cue card) is totally unnecessary congnitive load for such a simple information payload.

    Resulting designs

    Since it's unclear from this thread whether the 1st runner up is or is not announced, I've included designs for both scenarios:

    two card designs

    The designs use simple UX principles: island grouping to organize and visually relate the chunks, top entry point with natural, top-to-bottom information flow, arrows to aid flow orientation and transitions, clear step-by-step / flowchart-style instructions in case presenter gets stage fright, and consistent presentation of hierarchical chunked information (same font, same alignment, line breaks between related information).

    The first design includes a subtle but visually separated footnote for the implied 1st runner up position. Although that should be completely clear after the winner is announced, the presenter may be under considerable stress so it doesn't hurt to provide the information for her/his reference.

    Like Steve Harvey, you've missed important information that's been written down: my requirements and restrictions explicitly state that the host announces the first runner-up immediately after announcing the winner. To be fair, they could be more concise, but for anybody in doubt, see how easy to forget or miss text?

    Plainclothes points out that the first runner up is implied and not announced. So the problem statement is incorrect in the sense that you'd like to avoid a screw up but announcing the 1st runner up would be a screw up. If you want, I'm happy to adjust this answer to incorporate the 1st runner up after the winner.... That actually makes the design problem even simpler!

    Well if you're making the case for not announcing the first runner-up at all, the listed requirements, that's up to you. Plainclothes was the first user to answer, and again to be fair, s/he probably answered after I realized that the first-runner up is named immediately after the winner is announced. My previous comment is mostly directed at people who say 'There's nothing wrong with the original card!'

    Got it. I think there is actually good logic in the way that it's done (with the first runner up implied rather than announced). After announcing the winner, doing another announcement for the obvious first runner up would be redundant and a let down after the peak TV moment of the winner's celebration. The reason I included the runner up at the bottom with low visual presence is really just for reference for the announcer.

  • Most existing answers rightfully criticize the choice of words, because we’re used to 1st through 3rd place elsewhere, not “title-bearer” and “runner-ups”. I assume that this is established pageant practice, though, and hence cannot be changed at the same level as the card design. (I didn’t know these shows were actually shown on TV, but am not surprised either.)

    All answers that show or describe better layouts for the card, treat it as a single two-dimensional surface. It doesn’t have to be. You can fold the sheet of paper like a brochure. I would suggest a C-fold (1), but a Z-fold (4) might also work, even a simple bi-fold (not pictured) would be better than none. The C-fold is the only one that is intuitively opened always the same way, so no turning of upside-down or backside-up text.

    1: letter/C tri-fold, 2: gate tri-fold, 3: roll/double gate fold, 4: accordion z-fold, 5: double (parallel) fold, 6: double right-angle / French fold brochures

    The obvious trick is to make only the second runner-up visible in folded state or first opening step, and reveal the title-bearer on the next step. The first runner-up would be displayed less prominently way below the winner. There have been enough suggestion how exactly to do that typographically.

    I think this is the best answer because the folds hide the names/details until the moment they're needed. Plus the announcer can easily back-fold the names/panels that were already read back so they are out of view. This consistently gives the announcer one name to read/view while preventing snooping. Bravo!

    From the standpoint of solving the problem of presenting only the information necessary in a particular moment while providing a clear path to the next stage of information, I like this solution; however, from an aesthetic standpoint, (unless the host is already habituated to the technique) the "unfolding" of the card could easily devolve into a spectacle of "unfolding a map on stage."

    I love this answer! I think that the folding matters less, it's the idea of not presenting them all at once. Admittedly, myself, like many of the other responders, were blind to this line of solution and focusing too much on trying to rearrange the lines on a single card. You could easily adapt this idea to 3 separate cards @K.AlanBates.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM