Recession Proofing Design - Jan Takacs

On March 21 & 22, 2023 I attended Geekle’s UX/UI Design Summit 2023 webinar along with my coworker and Front End Developer Erin Flegg.

Here are some highlights from Jan’s presentation. Thanks to all the presenters for sharing their knowledge and resources.

A slide from Jan's presentation.

We are in a recession. Uncertainty and lay-offs loom. There are scarcer opportunities and more saturation and competition among people, with extreme pressure on business impact.

A slide from Jan's presentation.

Here are 7 unique ways to build your recession-proof toolkit (in Jan’s own words):

  1. Optimize existing operations. Since there is increased pressure to achieve profitability, most businesses will look at ways to improve their current operations and processes. Pitches for innovative ideas for new products or services should come with a clear business case, as it is not the best time for initiatives with uncertain outcomes.
  2. Learn the basics of pricing. During economic downturns, people are more cautious about how they spend their money, so the pricing aspect of products becomes crucial. Designers would benefit from learning the basics of pricing and getting familiar with the commercial side of product development.
  3. Apply design thinking for key communications. Business development proposals, pitches and communications are usually complicated, lengthy and monotonous. By applying design thinking, storytelling, visual communication or information design, designers can help key presentations and proposals stand out in a competitive market, declutter core value propositions, and strengthen the brand.
  4. Proactively add value through business savviness. Many people with power and decision-making capabilities might not even know how a UX professional or design team can help them. Hence it’s critical to be proactive, reach out to people and explain what you do. Explain how you can help them. That’s vital. Because they may not even know that there’s a person in the organization that can help achieve their goals.
  5. Open collaboration, not a siloed approach, will win. Better embedment into the organization’s structure will matter more than ever now; designers who are siloed away and not tightly integrated within their business and broader working teams will significantly decrease their relevance.
  6. Time to pay more attention to your CFO. Often, seemingly boring financial briefings and presentations are essential to understand the core financial metrics of your organization and see the bigger picture. Without this, it’s extremely hard to know where to invest your time and energy to make the most significant impact (and keep your job or rise in the business).
  7. Breadth of skills matters a lot more now. Due to unpredictability and the constant change factor in the new economic climate, the value of people’s adaptability has risen dramatically. It’s likely to pay off more when we acquire a new, broader range of skills, even surface-level, rather than specializing too deep in one or two very specific areas, which would limit our ability to pivot.

Another area to focus on right now would be to hone your internal design systems, libraries etc.

Still looking for more direction? Check out our services pages, maybe Acorn can help you out.

Recommended Resources:

  • Universal Principles of Design (blue book, by William Lidwell)
  • Smashing Magazine - forms and everything else!

Part three: