CX Insights

How to Find the Balance Between UX and Security

UX Security
4 min read

When it comes to online activity, accessibility is everything. We’ve become so accustomed to getting everything we want online at any time, from any device; and what’s more, we’ve come to expect this level of access.

The problem is, as a user, how often do you stop to think about security? Probably not as often as you should. The ‘Online Generation’ has developed such a short attention span that as a user, you are much more likely to be concerned with how quickly we can do something online, rather than how securely.

With online activity spanning across practically all aspects of modern life, keeping data secure is more important than ever. But, how do you enforce security measures while maintaining a good user experience? Striking a favourable balance between UX and security is becoming an increasing focus as device interconnectivity and multi-device use continues to grow.

So, which should be the priority – UX or security?

It’s often said that the more protected a site is, the less user-friendly it becomes, right? Not necessarily. According to software and security engineer for Jolla, John Brooks, UX and security are not mutually exclusive and must be considered in equal measure:

“It is a mistake to try to design security without considering the user experience, or to try to design a user experience without considering security, because unless those two are cooperating, one of the two will fail.”

The problem that UX designers face is that from the user perspective, an increase in security and privacy can often mean a reduction in convenience, causing a negative experience. So how do you find the balance between the two? We’ve identified 3 main considerations for implementing a new security feature on your site that will help create a happy relationship between security and UX.

1. Keep it Simple

Keep it Simple

The best features of any website are simple to navigate, uncomplicated and self-explanatory – this should be no different for security features and is exactly how they should be designed. A good rule of thumb is to provide everything your user needs and nothing more. 

Minimize the time and effort required to use the feature so that it doesn’t impact negatively on the user experience. Security features are, in a sense, a ‘barrier’ to something else so it is vital that you remove any additional, unnecessary steps so you don’t discourage the user. When it comes to security, users don’t want to feel confused or lost in the process. Keep it simple.

2. Explain ‘Why’

Explain Why

Even though security features are undoubtedly technical in nature and must fit inside certain practical parameters, you should always remember that there is a an actual person on the other end of the process. This may seem obvious for UX designers but it’s an important concept that should be discussed with the technical team responsible for building or implementing the feature.

The online security process can involve personal data and so must be treated with a degree of sensitivity. With every step of your security feature, explain what is happening and importantly, why. If you’re asking for more information from the user, explain to them why this is important. People are unlikely to willingly give up their information if they don’t understand why they’re being asked to. Be transparent with your process and you will gain your users’ trust.

3. Test, Test, Test

Test, Test, Test

As all UXers know, one of the cornerstones of a good user experience is to test, test and test again. This is especially important for security measures because if it doesn’t work, or doesn’t work well, users will instantly lose trust in your site and ultimately, your business.

If possible, get everyone in your business to test the feature before going live and be prepared to consider any suggestions, fixes or changes that come your way. You don’t necessarily need to implement all of these of course, but it can be incredibly useful to understand how different people interact with the feature.

As a next step, you can ask for feedback from your users directly. The best way to understand how the feature is performing is to ask the people who are actually using it. This will allow you to continuously improve and tailor it to fit the needs of your user. The most effective way to collect user feedback is to use a Voice of Customer solution, like Usabilla.

Here at Usabilla, we have just launched a new security feature in the form of our 2-Step Verification, which adds an extra layer of protection for our clients in their Usabilla account. We’ve designed it with all of the above considerations in mind: it’s simple (it can be set up in just a few clicks); the ‘why’ of the process is clear (our users know exactly what they need to do and why it’s important); and we’ve tested it thoroughly (everyone in the business was asked to try out the feature before going live and give feedback). Following these simple guidelines will help you create an effective security feature that doesn’t damage the user experience. 

Have you experienced any particularly good or bad security features recently? We’d love to hear about them, share them with us in the comments below!

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Lana Miller
Content & Brand Manager at Usabilla.