Design for Uncertainty

It is impossible to predict the infinite number of creative, serendipitous, and unexpected uses of a product or service. Embracing and encouraging this unpredictability is an important part of the inclusive design process. Although it relies on serendipity and other unknowable factors, unexpected uses can be encouraged by giving the user ways to extend, remix, share, repurpose, and in other ways personalise the “final product”.

Staying open to new ideas in the design process for as long as possible, getting designs into users’ hands early and often, and making it easy and attractive for the design team to respond to change are some of the ways that uncertainty can be embraced.


  • Brainstorm scenarios of use that are as different from the “basic” scenario as possible
  • Solicit ideas and feedback from a broad community of potential users early in the design cycle
  • Encourage and allow for open and iterative communication between designers and developers throughout the development cycle
  • Avoid “locking” the design for as long as possible by encouraging the creation and use of rough mockups, paper prototypes, and/or easy-to-use digital prototyping tools