Mar 25, 2021 | by Budi Tanrim
A confusing interface that creates fire.
In April 2019, the security employee at Notre Dame—the medieval Catholic cathedral in Paris—saw the red warning light flashed.
“Feu.” It means fire in French.
The security employee needed to locate where the fire was. But there was a problem. The security employee got this alert code from the interface:
That was the code for one of 160 smoke detectors installed in the building. It took them about 30 minutes to figure out where the real fire was—which by that time, the fire was already running wild. Too much to handle with a fire extinguisher. They called the firefighters right away.
Many works of art suffered some smoke damage or were destroyed. The city launched a fundraising campaign that brought in donations of over €1 billion. The complete restoration is scheduled to be finished by 2024.
The cost and the incident that damaged Notre Dame’s history could be avoided if the interface was more obvious. Obvious enough to help the security employee to locate the fire quickly and more intuitively. Obvious enough to avoid the disaster.
The confusing interface happens because the creator doesn’t serve the users. They serve themself: their ego, their ambition, their convenience and their selfishness.
Your work has consequences.
You should be responsible and take full ownership of it.