Design for the recovery experience


Note: I don’t love “recovery experience” as a term, but I’m sorely decaffeinated. Halp.

We advocate this meditation-of-evils practice the Roman Stoics called praemeditatio malorum where, in planning, we imagine the worst-case scenarios and make contingencies for them.

The capital-d Design process common among many of us actually has mechanisms that embody this ethic like the beta test, like QA, and so on. We do our best to shore-up our thing against failure.

Inevitably, though, things break. A server goes down, an API key gets revoked, form validation fails on a legit phone number - there is such a sparkling variety to the things that can go wrong that they are hard to imagine in full.

So, when things will, we set-in to triage the situation where the pressure of time-constraint, reputation, and the like will strain even the most stoic constitution. Thus there is an opportunity here to design the recovery state so that rebooting the server, repairing the database, swapping-in a new key, fixing and redeploying the form UI, are as easy — as usable — as possible.

Consider this in your design work going forward. Murphy’s law comes for us all.

Craft virtuously.

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Stoic Designer is also now a podcast. You should be able to find it on your podcatcher of choice in the next day or two.

Remember that design is not art, but a practice.

Michael Schofield