Real life is quite scary, so let's design for that

Getting a mortgage is easily one of the terrifying things I’ve ever had to go through. It might be just me, but I’m incredibly averse to the idea of debt. Our Western lives have indulged and even revolved around it for probably 400 years at this point, but I still can’t come to grips with it. I would rather just wish the whole damn thing away, as would most people.

To think of how painful and unfriendly the process is for signing away a bigger debt than there is a good chance of me ever paying off in full is insane. Somehow this is what you do, and this is what our society expects out of us. We’re led through a pricker bush of things we don’t understand or can compute with absolute confidence and then spit out the other side being two missed payments away from homelessness and crippling debt. The mortgage, and thus home ownership, is the cornerstone of the UK and US economies, and the whole damn, sordid thing has to be the least considered experience ever. The fact that I’ve been a lot more reassured about buying a pair or shoes online than the most expensive thing in my life is something to think about – and yet no one does.

I’ve been spending quite some time designing around a border. Well, actually The Border. By border, I don’t mean some conceptual design border or business constraint, but an actual, physical, geographical and most importantly, national border. This is very real. When you’re talking about people trafficking, “modern” slavery and of course the “stuffing” versus “swallowing” of things you’re not supposed to be bringing into the country, it is scary. This finally is being treated with the same care that buying a pair of shoes online is, and the mortgage isn’t.

When there are difficult things in life, we should be throwing everything behind making these better-designed experiences. But we are a weak species. Our palaeolithic minds are easily frightened and usually go for the easy, less scary route. We spend hundreds if not thousands of working hours on making buying those shoes online as easy as tieing them once you get them. What we should be doing is letting the shoe thing be difficult instead, because after all, they never end up fitting as good as if you just went into the damn shop.