The Value of Design in Hard Times

One of the things you’re not doing now — or doing less of — is aggressively trying to understand how the service landscape has changed.

Michael Schofield
Mar 23 · 3 min read
Subscribe to Metric UX on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Stitcher, and the rest.

When the market’s taken a spill, when your earned revenue is down — people aren’t leaving their homes, folks have lost work, uncertainty leads to spending scarcity — then the easiest line-items to cut are those that involve external consultants. You need to preserve your budget to take care of your colleagues, your business, your livelihoods.

But constraint, especially when that constraint is sudden, unpredictable, and symptomatic of problems widely outside of your control (or even the control of your industry, or your country) — constraint causes strategic tunnel vision focused entirely on stemming the blood flow. All the constellations in your worldview blur while you focus on a small point in the sky.

This is sane.

But one of the things you’re not doing now — or doing less of — is aggressively trying to understand how the service landscape has changed. This is the landscape where the service you provide, and your products, dot grainy plains that stretch far to the horizon. It is the landscape of your users’ journeys — all of them.

Your organization or business exists because the services you provide intercept these journeys. They do not exist for any other reason.

That landscape has changed. It has changed dramatically. What once was — let’s say — a pastoral, sprawling lawn, is now an archipelago. The journeys have been existentially upset and are newly adapting for if not survival then a new reality, like neurons branching.

If you yourself or your colleagues aren’t surveying your service landscape, then while you focus to triage the wound, you aren’t questioning — or, if you are, you can’t answer — whether your services will still be in demand. Do your users’ journeys still follow the same path?

It is not just that design is reconnaissance: design is intelligence.

How differently, then, do you value the role of service design? How differently do you prioritize your colleague, or your consultant, or the time you all allocate as a team to shift your attention to the window?

Remember: the user experience is a metric.


A heads-up about frequency of these emails and podcasts: I am going to begin publishing three times per week, starting this week 👋, and I want to be super honest about my motives. First, I think I provide a small, free, niche, useful service in these little thought blops, and I really like doing it. It scratches a super creative itch for me.

But really, in the interest of oh-shoot-look-what-the-pandemic-is-doing-to-jobs, I want to be able to better leverage some of the audience I’ve built to help sponsor Metric, find new small consulting retainers or research contracts, and suchlike. In other words, my job to be done is to find certainty in this uncertain moment.


If you would like to help “produce” Metric, which I thank you or your organization at the end of the podcast, the deets are below.

Consider liking (❤) this issue of Metric if this made you think. Please take the time. If you haven’t already, please subscribe for free. Help produce this work.

Metric is a podcast, too. Subscribe to Metric on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, and all the usual places.

— M.

Michael Schofield

Written by

User Experience Development Lead @WhereByUs. 🎙 Metric: the User Experience Design Podcast (metricpodcast.com).

Metric

Metric

High-level practical design thinking by Michael Schofield

More From Medium

More on Design from Metric

28

More on Podcast from Metric

More on Podcast from Metric

Gutenberg doesn’t disrupt WordPress

1

More on Design from Metric

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade