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Next Workshop:

November 8, 2002

Chicago, IL (10am - 5pm)
$395. (Registration Closed)

Learn how to 'Make Mistakes Well' and design for when things go wrong in our contingency design and usability workshop.
Matt Linderman, Ernest Kim, and Jason Fried

Sorry, but registration is closed for this workshop

If you'd like to be notified about our next workshop, send an email to and we'll sign you up for our announcement list.

Where can I find out more about contingency design?

Learn more about contingency design by downloading our Contingency Design White Paper (PDF, 510K, 17 pages), or visit Design Not Found, a site where we publish reviews of good and bad contingency design issues from around the web.

Sample pages from the White Paper:

Sample: Snapshots

Snapshot Examples
This page highlights two examples of bad contingency design (one from and one from

Sample: Comparisons

This page provides a side-by-side comparison of good and bad contingency design (one from and one from

[NEW] View results, photos and attendee comments from our last sold-out Contingency Design Workshop on August 9th, 2002. 99% agreed that it was money and time well spent.

Workshop title/details

Make Mistakes Well: Maximizing Online Usability By Helping People When Things Go Wrong. November 8th, 2002. 10am - 5pm (lunch included). One hour optional networking session after the workshop.

Workshop summary

Join the industry experts at 37signals for a hands-on workshop exploring the concept of online contingency design (i.e. the art and science of error message design, preventing visitor mistakes and helping visitors get back on track once a problem does occur).

At the workshop, you'll learn the contingency design rules that can radically improve your site's customer experience, usability, conversion rates and more.

Plus, you'll see the best and worst of contingency design in action. Together we will analyze, compare/contrast, and evaluate the crisis point handling of major sites, including, Walmart, E*Trade, CD NOW, Google, Yahoo!, Citibank, SprintPCS, eBay and others.

You'll leave the workshop inspired and armed with real world solutions that can improve your site immediately.

What you'll learn at the workshop

  • The top 40 contingency design rules that every site developer should know.
  • Why contingency design is often overlooked and how that decision cost companies revenues and customers.
  • How to evaluate your site's contingency design.
  • Quick fixes that can bring you immediate results.
  • ...and lots more.

Who should attend

  • Information Architects and Visual Designers (Why? Because contingency planning needs to be an integral part of the site design, not an afterthought.)
  • Programmers and Developers (Why? Because error recovery begins with error prevention.)
  • Content Managers and Copywriters (Why? Because helping your customers overcome crisis point easily means speaking in a language they can understand.)
  • Project Managers (Why? Because helping your customers solve their problems easily can reap big rewards for your bottom line.)

Workshop schedule

9:30am   Coffee, tea, and bagels
10:00am   Workshop starts
    Introduction to contingency design
    Contingency design guidelines
12:00pm   Catered lunch
    Contingency design guidelines (cont.)
    10 head-to-head shootouts
    Learn how to test your site's contingency design
5:00pm   Workshop ends
    (optional) Drinks and networking session

Workshop Q&A

Why is contingency design important?

Contingency design must be a top priority for any site interested in providing successful customer experiences. Web sites that invest in contingency design will increase customer loyalty and significantly improve the rate at which site visitors purchase, subscribe and register.

How many people attend each workshop?

We limit workshop enrollment to 25 people in order to assure personal attention and an intimate learning environment.

Who is 37signals and what makes you experts?

37signals designs web sites, conducts usability reviews, and educates people about the real-world advantages of simplicity and clarity online. We publish our contingency design research on Design Not Found. We've written an informative white paper on contingency design and are currently working on a book for New Riders Publishing on the topic of contingency design to be published in 2003.

I'm coming from out of town. Do you have hotel recommendations?

The following hotels are within walking distance or a short cab ride:
Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, 20 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, IL 60611, (312) 324-4000
Claridge Hotel Chicago, 1244 N Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60610, (800) 245-1258
Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel, 163 E. Walton Place, Chicago, IL 60611, (312) 751-8100

Do you offer workshops on other usability/design topics?

Yes. We've spoken at leading design/business conferences and universities on a wide variety of subjects dealing with the intersection of simplicity, design, usability and business. We are happy to develop a custom workshop/presentation to meet your needs. Get in touch and we'll discuss what we can do for you.

What if I paid and I can't make it?

Refunds will only be issued up until October 25th.

Can you help us with contingency design issues on our site?

Absolutely. If you'd like help making sure your site's contingency design is bulletproof, we're here to help. Check out our usability review services for the details, or get in touch and we'll put together a proposal for you.

What if I have other questions?

Get in touch and we'll gladly answer all your questions.

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