An Event Apart: Designing for Crisis

by Luke Wroblewski October 29, 2014

In his Designing for Crisis talk at An Event Apart in Orlando FL 2014, Eric Meyer shared how considering crisis-driven personas can help improve Web site designs. Here are my notes from his talk:

  • Most Websites work for the people in marketing and management at the organization that makes the Web site -not for actual users. And least of all for users with crisis-driven situations.
  • We envision the perfect user: calm, collected, and able to process the information we put in front of them. We need to also consider crisis-driven personas. When you approach your site design with a crisis-driven persona, you WILL see things differently.
  • If a crisis-driven user can figure out how to use your site, so will the average user.
  • Designing for crisis requires empathy, the ability to feel what you're users are going through.
  • Crisis can be just as much about context as persona. In leisure, in haste, or in crisis.
  • In addition to different personas, consider context as well. Some personas only appear at certain times and places. This helps determine what designs are appropriate when.
  • A crisis doesn't have to originate from the user, it can stem from technology: what happens when there's an error and things don't work?
  • Make sure you include any necessary instructions and possible trouble-shooting information up front. Don't withhold useful information when you know things might go wrong.
  • By using minimal design to manage emotional context, you can make tremendous impact. Design is not a solo effort, its a collaborative team process.
  • Take a look at your design through fresh eyes -through the eyes of your user.
  • You can create more complicated user research tasks by adding styles that obscure content. This will give you a better sense of how resilient your designs actually are.