Contingency design, sometimes called ‘defensive design’, is the art and science of anticipating what might go wrong and designing the experience to minimise the danger or unpleasantness for the user. It is an aspect of experience design.
Contingency design is most often applied in the development of web sites, multimedia presentations and software but is also an important consideration for all user experiences, from the design of offices to public recreational spaces. Good contingency design can increase customer loyalty and generate higher sales and advertising revenue.
Contingency design is a specialist field beyond the scope of designers or web developers. It requires a deep understanding of communications, human-computer interaction, design, language and cultural issues.