message design


As promised, here is the full piece in FT on the lessons of the latest disaster: When citizens pay no heed to alerts, warnings and evacuation orders, the normal reaction is to blame the citizens or ponder the possibilities of forcible means. But what we learned through our research and from reflective practitioners is that people have good reasons not to act on warnings. So if we want to design effective messages, we have to start from the minds of the recipients. We must practice empathy. Evacuation, the primary means of getting people out of harm’s way, is a major disruption of the evacuee’s life.
On May 14th that I retweeted a satellite image of a weather system over Sri Lanka. The tweet said “WEATHER ALERT – Severe rain over #LK will continue for next 24/48hrs. Public cautioned over flash floods & landslides.” The hazard was public knowledge, contrary to some claims now being made. WEATHER ALERT – Severe rain over #LK will continue for next 24/48hrs.