Real life is complicated. It’s full of joy and excitement, sure, but also stress, anxiety, fear, shameShame, she points out, is not the same as guilt. Guilt happens in response to an action or inaction. It is linked to an event, not a person. It can... More, and crisis. We might experience harassment or abuse, lose a loved one, become chronically ill, get into an accident, have a financial emergency, or simply be vulnerable for not fitting into society’s expectations.
None of these circumstances is ideal, but all of them are part of life-and, odds are, your site or product has plenty of users in these moments, whether you’ve ever thought about them or not.
Our industry tends to call these edgeFor me this space of radical openness is a margin a profound edge. Locating oneself there is difficult yet necessary. It is not a “safe” place. One is always at... More cases-things that affect an insignificant number of users. But the term itself is telling, as information designer and programmer Evan Hensleigh puts it: “Edge cases define the boundaries of who and what you careThe activities that constitute care are crucial for human life. We defined care in this way: Care is "a species activity that includes everything that we do to maintain, continue,... More about” (http://bkaprt.com/dfrl/00-01/). They demarcate the border between the people you’re willing to help and the ones you’re comfortable marginalizing.Design for Real Life
That’s why we’ve chosen to look at these not as edge cases, but as stress cases: the moments that put our design and content choices to the test of real life.
It’s a test we haven’t passed yet. When faced with users in distress or crisis, too many of the experiences we build fall apart in ways large and small.
Instead of treating stress situations as fringe concerns, it’s time we move them to the center of our conversations-to start with our most vulnerable, distracted, and stressed-out users, and then work our way outward. The reasoning is simple: when we make things for people at their worst, they’ll work that much better when people are at their best.Design for Real Life
Compassion and acceptance are practical and effective magic. They remedy a lot of problems and contribute to psychological safetyPsychological safety is a condition in which you feel (1) included, (2) safe to learn, (3) safe to contribute, and (4) safe to challenge the status quo—all without fear of... More. AcceptanceAcceptance means training mental health service providers to look at autism and other disabilities as a part of a person's identity, rather than a problem that needs to be fixed. Acceptance... More matters. “A big part of our susceptibility to issues like anxiety has to do with how we were slowly socialized, either implicitly or explicitly, to believe that an autistic lifestyle is something that is defective and therefore needs fixing. A recent Independent article sums up the strong link between lack of autism acceptance and the development of mental health disorders in autistic people: Research shows that lack of acceptance externally from others and internally from the self significantly predicts depression and anxiety in young adults with autism. ” “We also reject the equation that accepting autism and disability means giving up. Research consistently shows that autismAutistic ways of being are human neurological variants that can not be understood without the social model of disability.If you are wondering whether you are Autistic, spend time amongst Autistic people, online and offline. If... More acceptance leads to better mental health for parents as well as autistic people themselves. Evidence is mounting that acceptance and accommodationAccommodation is fundamentally about not changing the person but changing the environment around the person.Normal Sucks: Author Jonathan Mooney on How Schools Fail Kids with Learning Differences Yet on a programmatic... More provide a more reliable path to increased capability and independence than fighting autism or disability does. Acceptance isn’t a cure, but it does facilitate recognition and support of abilities that often go unrecognized and under-valued. We are better off when not only our disabilities, but our real abilities, are recognized.”
The lesson I learned from all of this is that the way we treat the people that society had deemed insane -in a treatment that will last most likely for a lifetime- is fundamental to their recovery. As you can see, in this account there is not a single psychological technique applied, just a little common sense, empathyEmpathy is not an autistic problem, it’s a human problem, it’s a deficit in imagination.We all need to work on imagining things we have not been through.Empathy, Imagination and Autism... More and compassion. I would have loved to immediately start applying the treatments of the school where I was trained, meeting the problems of psychosis and facing them with the tools I learned at university. Yes, I would have loved to, because I love my profession. But first I had to just be a human being.How to Deal with Madness? | Jorge Silva on Patreon
“Compassion is not coddling.” DisabledThe label "disabled" means so much to me. It means I have community. It means I have rights. It means I can be proud. It means I can affirm myself... More and neurodivergentNeurodivergent, sometimes abbreviated as ND, means having a mind that functions in ways which diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.”NEURODIVERSITY: SOME BASIC TERMS & DEFINITIONS Neurodivergent is quite... More people are always edge cases, and edge cases are stress cases. The logistics of disability and cognitive difference in an ableist and inaccessible world are exhausting, often impossible. Part of compassion is recognizing the structural realities of marginalizedFor me this space of radical openness is a margin a profound edge. Locating oneself there is difficult yet necessary. It is not a “safe” place. One is always at... More people and rejecting narratives of resentment. Design is tested at the edges. “No one knows best the motion of the ocean than the fish that must fight the current to swim upstream.” “By focusing on the parts of the system that are most complex and where the people living it are the most vulnerable we understand the system best.” “When we build things – we must think of the things our life doesn’t necessitate. Because someone’s life does.” “That’s why we’ve chosen to look at these not as edge cases, but as stress cases: the moments that put our design and content choices to the test of real life.” “Instead of treating stress situations as fringe concerns, it’s time we move them to the center of our conversations-to start with our most vulnerable, distracted, and stressed-out users, and then work our way outward. The reasoning is simple: when we make things for people at their worst, they’ll work that much better when people are at their best.” ‘People who enter services are frequently society’s most vulnerable–people who have experienced extensive trauma, adversity, abuse, and oppression throughout their lives. At the same time, I struggle with the word “trauma” because it signifies some huge, overt event that needs to pass some arbitrary line of “bad enough” to count. I prefer the terms “stress” and “adversity.” … Our brains and bodies don’t know the difference between “trauma” and “adversity”–a stressed fight/flight state is the same regardless of what words you use to describe the external environment. I’m tired of people saying “nothing bad ever happened to me” because they did not experience “trauma.” People suffer, and when they do, it’s for a reason.‘
We can’t always predict who will use our products, or what emotional state they’ll be in when they do. But we have the power—and the responsibility—to build compassion into every aspect of our products, and to advocate for experiences that support more of our users, more of the time.Delight 2016: Sara Wachter Boettcher — Design for Real Life – YouTube
The products we create can make someone’s day—or leave them feeling alienated, marginalized, hurt, or angry. It’s all depends on whether we design for real life: for people with complex emotionsJustice, equality, fairness, mercy, longsuffering, Work, Passion, knowledge, and above all else, Truth. Those are my primary emotions.Very Grand Emotions: How Autistics and Neurotypicals Experience Emotions Differently » NeuroClastic https://youtu.be/uPRa6G2a48E... More, stressed-out scenarios, or simply identities that are differentOur friends and allies at Randimals have a saying, What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world.Randimals We agree. Randimals are made up of two different animals... More from our own.Sara Wachter-Boettcher – Design for Real Life (video)
Technology companies call these people edge cases, because they live at the marginsFor me this space of radical openness is a margin a profound edge. Locating oneself there is difficult yet necessary. It is not a “safe” place. One is always at... More. They are, by definition, the marginalized.Design’s Lost Generation – Mike Monteiro – Medium
“Edge case” is, to be frank, a phrase that should be banned from all developer conversations (and then tattooed onto the forehead of anyone who continues to use it).
When we say “Edge Case” we mean “Stress Case”. In their book, Design for Real Life, Eric Meyer & Sara Wachter-Boettcher point out that what we glibly call an “edge case” is normally an enormously stressful event for a user.
It often accompanies high emotions, stress, physical problems, financial problems, etc. When we discount and dismiss the “edge case”, we’re actually saying “I don’t care about that particular user’s stressful situation”.Dear Developer, The Web Isn’t About You | sonniesedge.co.uk
When the premise is spelled out so bluntly, it sounds ridiculous. But that summary captures a mindsetThe marketing of mindsets was everywhere this year: “How to Develop Mindsets for Compassion and Caring in Students.” “Building A Tinkering Mindset In Young Students Through Making.” “6 Must-Haves for... More that is widely acceptedAcceptance means training mental health service providers to look at autism and other disabilities as a part of a person's identity, rather than a problem that needs to be fixed. Acceptance... More and applied. I call it BGUTI (rhymes with duty), which is the acronym of Better Get Used To It. It brings to mind a Monty Python sketch that featured “getting hit on the head” lessons. When the student recoils and cries out from the pain, the instructor says, “No, no, no. Hold your head like this, then go, ‘Waaah!’ Try it again”—and gives him another smack. Presumably this is extremely useful training . . . for future experiences of getting hit on the head.
But the key point is this: From a developmental perspective, BGUTI is flat-out wrong. People don’t get better at coping with unhappiness because they were deliberately made unhappy when they were young. On the contrary, what best prepares children to deal with the challenges of the real world is to experience success and joy, to feel supported and respected, to receive loving guidance and unconditional care and the chance to have some say about what happens to them. This is the foundation that allows one to see what’s wrong with unsympathetic people and coercive institutions, to realize that gradesGrades tend to diminish students’ interest in whatever they’re learning. A “grading orientation” and a “learning orientation” have been shown to be inversely related and, as far as I can... More or punishment or competition is not a necessary part of life, and to imagine alternatives. Most of all, positive emotional experiences give kids the confidence and psychological stability to weather the bad stuff. That’s what all the research about effective parenting (pp. 40–41) teaches us: Loved, empowered kids are in the best position to deal constructively with unloving, disempowering circumstances.Kohn, Alfie. The Myth of the Spoiled Child (p. 92). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.