Big, Bigger, Biggest

We now pause for a brief moment of design reflection.

Consider the following screenshots. The first of the BusinessWeek.com reader comment navigation as I originally designed it (eons ago, it now seems)…

…and the latter of how it appeared the other day when my boss tweeted about a story that’s garnered a whopping 3,000 comments and counting.

Ouch.

As originally envisioned, the design accommodated about 200 or so comments before Very Bad Things started floating the user’s way. There was a time—hefty traffic reports in hand—when that was above and beyond. Pants with two extra inches at the waist.

Clearly we’ve packed on some pounds since then.

Bend Me, Shape Me

How your designs scale with use is one of those things you need to diligently revisit and tweak as products mature. You can’t realistically account for all eventualities at the outset. That brand of clairvoyance eludes even the best of us. But you can plot out probable outcomes and leave hooks behind for those rainy design days somewhere on down the line. (And obviously some of those hooks need tugging on in this case.)

But remember, you need to return again and again, to ensure yesterday’s spacious accommodations haven’t turned into today’s teeming flophouse.

Actually, if you’ve done it right, you never left in the first place.