We have a number services for which the fulfillment of the service is ultimately reliant on a number of back office, or third party services.

If they all are working find then every is good. We can do some good old service design to make sure the user is able to achieve their goals without being exposed to this complexity.

Often, for one reason or another, these "back stage" services become unavailable. Perhaps for planned maintenance, maybe they are just broken and are reliant on things outside of the clients control to fix.

If not considered in our design, these exception cases present a bad experience to the user. For example, the user could get to the end of filling out a form, only to be told "sorry an error has occurred, please try again later".

We plan on implementing a number of strategies to avoid this. If we can automatically detect a back office service is not available, we can redirect the service to do something different, or maybe shift the user to another channel.

At the moment we are calling this "service disruption", however this is just a term our team have made up to talk about this type functionality.

My question is:

Is there a better name for this and is there an existing area of user experience or similar that deals with these types of problems?

  • 1
    Apart from what you call it, perhaps also consider stages of "resilience": at a minimum, the user should be able to "retry" the operation without having to re-enter data. Depending on the type of client and availability of local storage, you might "save" the request locally and allow it to be tried again later (similar to how an undelivered SMS works).
    – TripeHound
    Jun 19, 2017 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


I think it is realm of crisis communication. It is a part of PR and crisis management. But it can be a part of UX as sell because it affects users. Consider the following:

Be honest, straightforward and transparent

Take gitlab as an example

enter image description here

Communicate your action plan

Communicate what steps you are taking to resolve the crisis and how long it will take to do that.

Say sorry

Even if it is not your fault directly, for your users it is you who let them down. They paid or choose to use your service and it was your call to use faulty 3rd party service for the backend, not them.

And design and implement disaster plan which prevent outage

this escalator temporarily stairs

Also read this great article on crisis communication.

  • Great reply Jurijs. So are the saying the area of ux is called crisis communication? If you put this in, I'll mark it as an answer.
    – Jonny
    Jun 18, 2017 at 21:01

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