Sunday, December 6, 2009

Exploring Dimensions of UX & Privacy (iii)

In the third analysis of exploring dimensions of UX and privacy, a product may have a great product experience, be technically secure & afford the privacy that most people want; but despite this, be perceived to be insecure, or to not do an adequate job with regards to privacy.

Online personal health record services could be considered to be in this category. Since the data is personal, people are cautious about the privacy and security of these systems. A 2008 study by the Markle Foundation* found that only 2.7% of adults are using electronic personal health records, though 79% see benefits of doing so; and over half of those who say that they are not interested in doing so cite worries about privacy and confidentiality.

* http://www.connectingforhealth.org/resources/ResearchBrief-200806.pdf

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Exploring dimensions of UX & Privacy (ii)

A different scenario is offered by a product that provides a great product experience, a high perception of security; but is technological insecure.


This is where a great user experience, (or at least some core functionality that people want), is correlated with feeling at least satisfied with the privacy and security levels of the product. In this scenario people are either happy enough with the privacy and security they are provided, or oblivious to any privacy and security issues. They adopt, and continue to use the product.

Such products offer a great product experience - social networking tools for example, allow you to stay in contact with your friends! These tools often provide a feeling of security. But in a number of ways they may be insecure (recall Facebooks' Beacon, for which Zuckerberg personally apologized). In some cases, if people better understood the levels of privacy products afford, they may not be satisfied with them.

Consider also the example of credit cards. Credit cards are used by everyone, a lot of people are likely to feel that they are secure method of payment; but in a number of ways (theft, forging), they can be insecure. Convenience and a good user experience can trump even known insecurities.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Exploring dimensions of UX & Privacy (i)

Let's look at some examples of combinations of the extremes of the dimensions of UX & Privacy, described in the previous posting:



This is a tricky combination. It is difficult to create something that engenders a high perception of trust around privacy and security, while product experience is poor. With a poor user experience these situations tend to self-select out. Product experiences that put privacy and security above all else are good candidates. One example is PGP, signed encrypted email, requiring the exchange of encryption keys. Since OpenPGP is often a user-level responsibility, it is rarely adopted by users (though it has been by ISP's), since the user experience generated is intrusive.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dimensions of UX and Privacy

A more detailed way to explore the world of online privacy & security is through the use of dimensions:



As a Design Researcher, for any online user experience, I am interested in:

1. Making great product experiences
2. Knowing that data is securely protected
3. Measuring perceptions of security and privacy

Here are some of the things that makes this area complex:

1. Making great product experiences:
- Better product experiences may require access to data considered by some to be private.
- Better product experiences may require the aggregation of data, that, to some is considered to compromise privacy.

2. Knowing that data is securely protected:
- Data is securely protected until it isn't.
- Security and privacy standards are subjective (though there are efforts to create national and international standards).
- Security and privacy are technically complex (but it can be figured out).

3. Measuring perceptions of privacy and security:
- Satisfaction with privacy is subjective - not everyone has the same privacy needs or desires.
- Measuring privacy satisfaction is complex (but it can be figured out).

User Experience and Online Privacy

This blog is about online User Experience and Online Privacy.

It is about the balance between developing great user experiences, enabling technical security & privacy, and about online users having peace of mind in the level of privacy and security of their data.


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Sunnyvale, California, United States
I work at Google as a User Researcher and manage the Apps User Research team. The job focuses on people first, which is why I love it. This blog is written from personal perspective, and is not intended to represent Google.