I enjoyed reading these ‘principles for design in a crisis’ by Lou and a cast of 100s and the evolution of them published by the California Digital Service team as their Crisis Standard.

It got me thinking about my own product principles at the moment. I’m working directly on some COVID stuff, advising on some other things and just cheer-leading on other bits. It has felt like all those years of preaching about working in the open and being a digital generalist have finally paid off but there is a lot happening and like Ferris said ‘life moves pretty fast..’ I find it helps to have some grounding principles to check yourself if you have making important decisions quickly.

Assuming we’ve already had the conversation about the actual user needs…here are mine:

Don’t reinvent the wheel
Do we already have something that can do most of this? Is someone else doing this already elsewhere? Is there a decent SaaS product that can do this? Sometimes you need to build something from scratch and often you need to re-configure something to make it work locally – but look sideways first.

Accessibility in non-negotiable
Ensuring digital products are as inclusive as possible and the scenarios for non-internet users have been given sufficient attention is ALWAYS important. It is just even more so – lives could depend on people getting access to the right advice or support.

Stay in your lane
This is no time for ‘jurisdiction’ bun fights. Is this me or is it just useful for me to know what is happening. You can’t do everything and some people are closer to the problems and while their solutions might not be your solutions as long as they are solutions!

Privacy is for life not just for crisis
I do worry that this is the kind of fast-moving environment where concerns about privacy and security get seen as baggage slowing things down and this kind of thinking is what bites people in the rear at the first engagement with real users. At a minimum you need to understand the privacy and security trade-off you are making – it is all risk management.

Don’t let a good crisis go to waste
Terrible phrase I know. Especially in the middle of everything. That said this is going to change things – things we haven’t even thought about yet and there are going to be opportunities to get things done that have never had sufficient support or momentum before. Don’t lose sight of those opportunities.

What are yours?

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