UX design and cybersecurity are not mutually exclusive. While data privacy and ensuring security in each line of your code should be an ethical consideration for UX designers, it’s also a matter of building trust among your customers.
Users trade their personal information with websites or mobile apps in exchange for a digital product. They expect this information to be handled with integrity.
UX isn’t just design and flow. A website with severe data security flaws will not be able to build the trust that’s central to maintaining strong customer engagement. Security thus needs to be embedded in your web design.
Data breaches exposed 36 billion records in the first half of 2020, so data security is a real concern. One of the biggest challenges in interface design is to reconcile UX and security, but it is possible.
A good UX design can make or break a brand, while failed data security strategies have led to the fall of many organizations. Using UX to design your security gateways will ensure your users have an experience that does not disappoint them in terms of either convenience or the safety of their data.
With the number of businesses migrating to cloud increasing exponentially, data safety is now more important than ever before.
The user is the one left wanting in the misperceived dichotomy of the two camps i.e. UX and data security. One strives for better design; the other, for security. But businesses and their customers shouldn’t be forced to choose between a superior user experience or a secure one.
While 88% of users are less likely to return to a website after a bad user experience, 75% of organizations don’t have the technology or security procedures to prevent potential cyber-attacks. However, UX and security is not a zero-sum game. You can have a product that maximizes both.
Here are seven ways you can use a UX design to improve the data security picture.
1. Encourage Safety Through UX
Users are typically both active and attentive. Even if they’re lazily browsing, however, there’s still plenty of reason to make sure they’re alerted to security risks. You can do this through a well thought out UX design.
Tell users that security is in place and remind them that you use SSL encryption. This will increase trust in your product and services. Implement features that encourage users to choose stronger passwords and remind them to give out as little personal information as possible.
This micro-copy, visible when users create passwords, should encourage more secure selections. Rather than forcing users to create a strong password with one upper case letter, two special characters, and a number, tell them why it’s important to have a carefully picked out password.
You need to trust your customers to know the importance of securing their data. If the risk is made clear, they’ll be motivated to create a stronger password.
Make security notifications intuitive and meaningful. If the security measures require an extra step, tell your users why. Show your design expertise. Instead of a long security document, provide brief statements using copy and graphics to make the interaction enjoyable.
If users complete the task, use pictures and text to applaud their commitment to security and tenacity.
2. Simplify Authentication
Security flows are the most disliked elements of UX. Logging in, remembering your passwords, two-step authentications, captcha etc. These are definitely not user friendly.
Users want minimal fuss, and two-step authentications are time-consuming and downright annoying. They’re a great cybersecurity measure, but they could be improved with an eye to UX.
A single sign-in is a great way to enhance the user experience. You can still use two-factor authentication when credit card or financial information is being inputted, but for regular sign-ins where minimal data is collected, a single sign-in may be better.
Instead of a complex and time-consuming authentication, UX designers can use links sent to the emails used to sign into the website. An example would be peer to peer video conferencing. Once the link to the meeting is sent to your email, you don’t need to sign in again to join. The link is authentication enough.
A complex CAPTCHA can ruin your UX. Trying to prove they’re not a robot will quickly come to annoy your users, and they might decide not to return to your webpage. Instead, look into other options. CAPTCHA technology is evolving apace, and there are now less cumbersome but equally effective alternatives out there.
3. Minimise Complexity
Technical jargon is a deal-breaker. A good UX designer knows that design revolves around the user understanding it and seamlessly cruising through. If at any point you must tell the user about a security risk, it’s best to do so in the simplest language possible.
Provide a straightforward explanation of how a security measure works in layman’s terms. Think of how technicalities might be interpreted by the user before you put them down. Don’t use vague terms that may make users circumvent security features, but tell them simply what the problem is.
44% of people think that easier security measures would make their organization more secure.
A well-designed UX platform that embeds security and follows the UX standard is more likely to succeed compared to a poorly designed one. A usable interface inspires confidence and looks safer.
Clearly pointing out features that offer security protection instead of just having them there will also make users feel safer.
4. Address Frequently Breached UX Areas To Build Trust
To truly meet the security needs of users, designers and data security experts need to sit together and understand the users’ intentions, behaviors, and expectations. Using collaboration tools for design teams, they can navigate through the design aspects while anticipating the risks involved.
Ignoring stakeholders doubles the risk. Privacy needs to be built into your design by default.
Your product needs to be usable, desirable, accessible, and safe. You must test it for usability and security. The best tools for user research and user testing utilize screen sharing software that captures in-site feedback.
Identify security holes and take action accordingly instead of having a product so secure it isn’t usable. Security measures need to be embedded into the design in its initial stage and throughout the life cycle of the product.
To accomplish this:
- Make sure usernames are not emails. Hackers could get access to any system that uses the same email.
- Ensure error handling doesn’t compromise the site’s safety. If passwords are entered incorrectly, don’t spell out the email which the password is sent to.
- Require strong passwords.
- Use two-factor authentication every time the bank is involved in a financial transaction. It helps to protect login data and credit card information.
- Find alternatives to passwords for secure authentication, like biometric authentication.
- Adjust settings so administrators and users can select who can share content.
- Limit data access to only allow users to view and share what they want.
- Use end-to-end encryption to build trust.
Many popular products on the web do not use end-to-end encryption, making data highly susceptible to a breach.
An example is Skype, which only encrypts your conversations if you choose the “Private Conversation” feature. The best alternatives to Skype are listed here, many of them employing end-to-end encryption.
You do not need security perimeters that are front-loaded; have them embedded inside the user journey and create a frictionless experience without compromising security.
5. Make Users Aware of Phishing Attacks
Phishing is an online scam where criminals impersonate legitimate organizations via email, text, advertisement, or another means to steal sensitive information. To protect against phishing, UX designers can create pop-ups that alert users in a way that doesn’t disrupt their browsing experience.
Designers can also craft security forums and team collaboration tools where users may report spam and help other users. They can employ popups or messages within their apps to alert users of phishing attempts too.
6. Design for Transparency
Make sure your intentions are transparent. Ensure you inform users of how their data is being used and are upfront about what user actions entail.
Users should have a say in what data is collected and be able to give their consent to each bit of data processing. They should also have the right to withdraw this consent when they feel like it. Designers should ensure that users also know of third parties that might use their data.
Try to avoid storing sensitive information to proactively protect your data from breaches. Always ask for permission before you store this.
7. Collect Less Data and Reduce the Number of Cookies
Minimize the personal data you collect and work on keeping it secure. Ensure you destroy it when it’s no longer needed.
Alos make sure you track what data third parties collect, and if you can, anonymize personal data.
Designers should ensure that closing an account is easy. Convenience is key even if the customer is leaving.
While it’s thought that collecting as much data as possible creates a more personalized experience, in a trade-off between more information and security concerns, you need to prioritize the latter. Less is more, so think twice about how much data you require to provide a premium experience online.
A user-based design pays attention to how data is collected and how questions are framed. Notifications, forms, and permission requests are posed to the user only when you are certain the customer will accept them.
There are more chances your form will be filled in if it has fewer fields. Imagescape reduced their contact form from 11 to four fields and gained a 120% increase in conversions.
For example, for a booking appointments website, it’s useless to have fields in the booking form requesting the individual’s address. You only need their name and credit card to complete the transaction.
Of the many ways there are to enhance the user experience, reducing the number of cookies is a great one. Also, make sure the cookie banner isn’t startling and doesn’t take away from the user experience.
A good UX can change the fate of your company, but a product that’s easy to navigate and enjoyable to use doesn’t have to compromise on security. Security is sacrosanct. Without it your users are vulnerable.
Luckily, UX and security can work hand in hand. They must. You can deliver a product that’s both usable and highly secure.
You don’t have to decide on what’s more important — increased security or a better experience. Product security doesn’t stand at odds with design. The latter can in fact be used to improve online safety, as illustrated above.
Be aware of the human tendencies of your users, but ensure your security precautions don’t remove their agency. Designers who understand their users’ needs can still create products that provide an immersive experience, and a product that prioritizes data security builds trust more easily than one that doesn’t.
Cyber is a complex adaptive system, and UX design is crucial for success in the online world. Using UX to enhance data security is hitting two birds with one stone and setting yourself up for success.
As long as you remain creative and open to tackling security issues with UX, you will find your customers reward you with increased engagement and trust.