Blog by Raam Shanker

Designing for the Unplanned: Navigating Through Challenges

In the world of design, meticulous planning and seamless execution often take center stage. However, the reality is that things don’t always go according to plan. Designers and organisations need to anticipate and prepare for the unexpected. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of designing for when things go wrong, what to look for in these challenging moments, and how an organisation’s response becomes a critical element in navigating through adversity.

The Fallacy of Perfect Plans:

Embracing the Unpredictable:

While designers strive for perfection in their plans, acknowledging the unpredictable nature of the real world is crucial. From technical glitches to unforeseen market shifts, the ability to adapt becomes a design imperative.

User-Centric Crisis Design:

Crisis design, or designing for when things go wrong, involves adopting a user-centric approach to address challenges. It means anticipating potential issues and crafting solutions that not only mitigate the impact on users but also enhance their experience during difficult times.

Key Elements to Consider in Crisis Design:

Clear Communication Channels:

In times of crisis, clear and transparent communication is paramount. Designers should consider how information is disseminated to users, ensuring that updates are easily accessible, concise, and instill confidence in the organization’s ability to handle the situation.

User-Friendly Error Messages:

Error messages are inevitable, but they don’t have to be frustrating. Designing user-friendly error messages that not only convey the issue but also provide guidance on what users can do next helps maintain a positive user experience even when things go wrong.

Streamlined User Support:

Robust user support features become essential in crisis design. This includes accessible help centers, chat support, or AI-driven assistance to guide users through challenges, offering solutions or directing them to relevant resources.

Flexible and Adaptable Interfaces:

Designing interfaces that can adapt to unexpected changes or disruptions ensures a smoother user experience. Whether it’s changes in service availability or modifications in product features, flexibility in design helps maintain usability in dynamic situations.

User Empowerment Tools:

Empowering users to take control during challenging circumstances is a hallmark of effective crisis design. This can include features like self-service options, status tracking, or personalized settings that allow users to tailor their experience based on their unique needs.

Organization’s Response in Crisis:

Proactive Problem Solving:

An organization’s response to a crisis should demonstrate proactive problem-solving. This involves acknowledging issues swiftly, communicating openly, and actively working towards resolutions, instilling confidence in users that their concerns are being addressed.

Agile Decision-Making:

Agile decision-making becomes a linchpin in crisis response. Designers and organizations must be ready to pivot, reassess strategies, and implement changes rapidly based on evolving circumstances.

Transparency and Accountability:

Transparency and accountability are pillars of a strong crisis response. Organizations should take responsibility for issues, communicate openly about the steps being taken to resolve them, and outline preventive measures to avoid similar challenges in the future.

Continuous Learning:

Designing for when things go wrong is an iterative process. Organizations should embrace a culture of continuous learning, conducting post-crisis analyses to identify areas of improvement and implementing these lessons into future design strategies.


In the intricate dance of design, preparing for the unexpected is not a concession but a strategic necessity. Designing for when things go wrong involves a proactive, user-centric approach that anticipates challenges and crafts solutions that mitigate the impact on users. An organization’s response during a crisis becomes a testament to its resilience, adaptability, and commitment to user satisfaction. By incorporating crisis design principles and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, designers and organizations can navigate through challenges with grace, emerging stronger and more adept at crafting solutions that stand resilient in the face of the unpredictable.