Amlan Sarkar

How UX designers can impact the society during COVID-19?

Flattening the curve

As the world is grappling under the pandemic outbreak of novel coronavirus, the human race is on its knees. We do not know how to handle the ever-worsening situation. The graph representing the number of infected people is on a constant upward rise. The exponential growth of the number of infected people is the prime reason for the steep rise of the curve. The need of the hour is to ‘flatten the curve’ as soon as possible. In the present scenario, can the UX designers do something to inspire people to practice social distancing without getting them affected by any panic or fear?

Everybody needs to understand the fact that an infection of COVID-19 is not a death sentence. As the chance of getting cured is as high as 96-97%, we need to follow some basic rules to defeat the evil design of the virus. UX designers, with their unique ability to inspire people through their work, can have a very significant contribution to society during these petrifying hours. In this respect, the first and foremost point a UX designer should concentrate on is to present information in such a way so as to persuade and motivate people to adopt social distancing without instilling any fear among them.

Nudging your way forward

Nudging is a small yet effective instrument in the behavioral context of people in general. As we understand from the saying ‘Small is beautiful’, UX designers can move their way forward with the little steps termed as ‘Nudge’. Nudging is an efficacious technique of informing the positive aspects of a particular thing. Take the case of COVID-19. According to the available statistics, the mortality rate of people infected by COVID-19 is only around 3-4%. Out of 100 infected persons, 80 persons are likely to get cured normally without the use of any medication. All these are construed as positive information. The UX designers have to present these positive pieces of information subtly while preparing their design for any user interface. Nudging can be referred to as a soft policy tool in the hands of UX designers. They have to use it judiciously without invoking any fear among the users. Nudging, if implemented successfully, will continue to exert influence on human behavior oblivious of the other factors that have a say on it.

Use of Emotional Design

While UX designers are preoccupied with the idea of presenting the positive aspects of COVID-19 in their work, the use of emotional design to combat the threat of the menace has a completely opposite perspective. In the case of nudging, UX designers worldwide are completely engrossed in making people understand only the positive aspects of COVID-19. In contrast, emotional designs are used to understand the perils of it.

At the present moment, the world is at stake. The very existence of the human race is under severe threat due to the rampaging onslaught of an ultramicroscopic creature called Novel CoronaVirus. UX designers use the concept of emotional design to convey the threats possessed by this virus. To some extent, it is actually akin to blackmailing the general masses. Making people listen and obey by instilling fear among them is the basis of emotional design. There is no dearth of negative aspects of COVID-19. The virus is threatening to wipe out human civilization if corrective measures are not taken in a time-bound manner. The world is in dire need of a proper health infrastructure to fight the galloping jaws of death extended by the menace of COVID-19. UX designers have to project the frightening prospects of this monster in their work so as to make people understand the gravity of the situation and adopt corrective measures before it is too late. Social distancing is the most commonly practiced measure in combating the threat of COVID-19, and the interesting thing is that this particular popular measure can be conveyed to the users by both -- the use of nudging as well as by the use of emotional design. Understandably, the pattern of the presentation will be different.

To sum up, UX designers worldwide are in an advantageous position where they can impact society while the world is trying to wriggle out from the perils of COVID-19. They can continue their work with the dedication of a missionary and educate the masses with their unique designs, conveying and convincing them about the way forward.