The players: The National Safety Council and the University of Iowa
Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. The University of Iowa has been leading research and development of automotive safety technologies for more than 20 years.
In 2015, the National Safety Council collaborated with the University of Iowa to create a national public education campaign called MyCarDoesWhat. The goal of this partnership was to educate current U.S. drivers on new and existing vehicle safety features and technologies designed to help prevent car crashes. These technologies range from increasing the stability and control of cars to providing warnings about crash threats to automatically intervening to avoid or reduce the severity of a crash.
The primary goal for this campaign was to educate drivers in the United States on how best to use these new and unfamiliar vehicle safety technologies, in order to produce a safer driving experience for all.
The campaign’s “audience” was essentially to target every driver in America over the age of 18. Easy right? So how do you design an interactive experience that spans multiple messaging points, interest levels and generations? By keeping things simple. Since we knew that the design needed to attract and communicate to a wide range of drivers, our guiding principle was to keep the design elements to an absolute minimum, group as many related topics (regardless of content types) and encourage discovery without the need for unnecessary clicking. This meant moving outside the traditional lines of a typical homepage experience and introducing a larger, less-is-more concept. Without question, the site needed to be simple, direct, intuitive and highly skimmable. These guiding principles were to be the cornerstone for this campaign.
The Usman Group team worked closely with several core stakeholders from the National Safety Council and the University of Iowa. We encouraged meeting in-person with the group as frequently as possible. Although much of what we do is grounded in crafting virtual experiences, the irony is that nothing beats face-to-face interactions. We’ve found that much of the ambiguity gets wiped out when you’re talking through and demonstrating interactions in real-time (especially to a group of strangers). So in order to save on time and avoid costly rework, our collaborative work sessions included things like sketching layout options, presenting interactive samples, pontificating over page hierarchies and navigational workflows and devouring a whole lot of snacks.
Also during the planning process, we performed extensive keyword research to ensure the proper nomenclature was used throughout the site’s copy and code. We also utilized Google Trends to further identify and inform our content writers as to phrase variations and timing on related categories and topics. We also used feedback from a research study to guide our decisions on how we ultimately prioritized the top 10 (out of the total 28) vehicle safety features on the homepage, and the global navigation.
During our post-launch phase, we learned that the majority of people who visited the microsite were between ages 45-65. Also, an overwhelming 49% of users browsed the microsite via their smartphones, 32% browsed on a desktop and 18% on a tablet. Based on these statistics, we were pleased in our original decision to accommodate a mobile-first experience that an older demographic would also appreciate.
Next, we collaborated with NSC’s MyCarDoesWhat graphic designer to create and reuse icons to best meet the original objectives of standardization. Our core objective was to have a clear, compelling and standardized set of icons that were easily recognizable to the general public.
Lastly, to make the site more engaging and provide an alternative way to steer users to crucial car safety information, we integrated educational quizzes to reinforce the key concepts.
The site began with a soft launch on June 17, 2015. The United States Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration were present at the full launch in October, 2015. As of Fall of 2015, the site is being promoted through multiple traditional media channels and outlets, including outdoor, print, TV, radio, social, paid search and web banner ads.