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Designing For Errors

My UX journey this week brings me to a deep dive exploration in detecting and designing for errors.

A wise man once said when preparing for the unexpected ; You should account for the things that could go wrong as the good things usually fix them selves.”

Designing for situations where things go well is relatively easy. Designing for when things go wrong can be a little tricky. Accounting for things that could go wrong or the least likely situation is where the responsibility in a great experience shines.

It is said that the most successful political speeches measure at a 4th grade level. As much as the argument leans to a decline in the national pace and reading level in today’s classrooms ; marketers and designers of choice, have shown to use this technique to ensure they account for all possible outcomes where they would succeed. This means adoption of information and products need to be considered even at the most unlikely and error-prone sources.

In a recent UX redesign of a web screen (which I’ll add here in an update of this post) I was faced with sacrificing possibly the best option for simplicity with adding an extra button for user accessibility.

This didn’t really hurt the design. It just wasn’t the best choice in my opinion.

But does my personal opinion really matter?

In the earlier days design was selfish. I remember looking at artworks of popular designers questioning their design choices or perspectives only to be shut down by an explanation of how the artist felt -“He did this on purpose”, I was told. I’m also an artist and I’ve made similar mistakes.

Today design serves more of a utilitarian purpose than to simply look pretty. Arrows direct us to walk ways and symbols dictate our nutritional choices. “Responsibility to experience” demands that we fully consider perspective and secure an efficient experience from the worst possible and unlikely position.


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