As designers, we all have the responsibility to build products that develop on the user. But how can you transmit the feeling of “security” to the user throughout the UI? What even is “security” to the user?

Nowadays in our digital world we do a lot of important things through our phones and computers. Banks are attracting young adults to use their applications more by improving their UI/ (a great example being Monzo’s design). There is also the matter of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which are growing a lot but have had major issues with security. How can we create interfaces that convey a clear perception of security to all types of users?

Every now and then we still visit websites that are complex, confusing and sketchy. Here are some tips to improve with these thoughts in .

1. UI Consistency

Sometimes people tend to put this topic aside but it is extremely important for a product to succeed. How many times do you ask yourself questions like: “Am I still on the same website?” or “Where am I? I was just looking for an answer”. This is what every website or product should avoid, and this is where the importance of UI libraries comes into play. A good UI library improves the experience of any website or product (if used consistently everywhere), and even the spacing on the main navigation makes a difference. (I would have second thoughts about using a website that changes the navigation’s spacing depending on the current state of the application).

You have to create a good first impression to make the user stay on your website longer than average. But after that, a consistent experience is what the user is expecting in order to feel safe and to trust your product. How do we achieve this? With an organized design system that works as a source of truth for you and your team. There are multiple tools out there that help you with this, one of them being DSM by InVision.

“Building a library of design patterns, rules, and UX guidelines prevents inconsistencies when shipping products at scale.” We can not forget that users use multiple devices so having this system is going to help with creating a natural and consistent experience between multiple platforms.

2. The placement and the transparency of ads

Ads are often a good business model but make sure you are adding them in a way that makes the user comfortable. In my opinion, in order to improve the experience for the user, you have to be transparent with ads, or in other words, don’t try to mix ads with content. Users want to feel that they know what they are clicking on. It is necessary to flag the ads with honesty, and you have to be aware of what the best position to place them is. Multiple pop ups/ads in places where users aren’t expecting them will spoil the user experience.

In my opinion, Twitter and Instagram’s mobile applications do a poor job of flagging the ads on their platforms. Twitter only shows the Promoted tag at the end of the tweet (after you’ve already read it).

Twitter’s example

Instagram places the Promoted tag on the same spot where they normally place a post’s location. This is misleading.

An example of an ad on Instagram. As a user, I tend to identify the ads by the “Watch More” button instead of by the “Sponsored” label.

I recently saw Facebook presenting a good example for flagging ads. They mark the promoted posts in 3 different ways:

  • Using a different layout from other posts;
  • Using the “Sponsored” tag, like Instagram;
  • The “Suggested Post” at the start (the one that most identifies the ad usually at a glance).
The Facebook’s example that I like.

Designer News is also great at solving this problem. They present a different layout for flagging the ads. In this way, it’s impossible to confuse normal posts and ads.

Designer News’ Feed

3. The user has to have the control

Our product has to provide the feeling that the user has control over all the actions even if they don’t. It has to be a place where the user knows where to find or discover the basic features alone or with the help of tips. Don’t hide the settings or other important actions that help the user personalize their experience. Always give feedback on the actions that the user takes. Help them understand the next steps that they will have to take when performing a longer action. In order to provide more feedback, use tooltips. These are a great way of providing more information to the user. The user is most likely not going to read them but they’re there if they want to have more information. The more control you give to users, the safer they will feel.

Moreover, make sure that your designs are clear in terms of correctly displaying what is a button, link, text, images… A very common trend nowadays is having links which are buttons and buttons which are links. This is misleading and causes confusion to users.

Performance here is also an important thing to have in mind especially if you are focused on security. Instantaneous actions are what the user expects. If it takes too long, the user can exit the website or think that something wrong is happening. You can also fake performance with some nifty animation tricks.

4. Never force the user to fill useless forms

You should not force users to fill in fields that will not improve their experience. Instead, offer control (again) on the data they choose to provide — this is a way to gain their trust. Having unnecessary fields can also be a downgrade for your website because users will get frustrated.

A good example to follow here is the GDPR, even if you don’t have users in the European Union. This will help you ask only the necessary questions to the user and make them feel more comfortable.

5. Last but not least — high quality copy

When I was a design student, I knew that copy was a great way to improve the experience of the user but I only realized how crucial they really were when I started working on an actual user-facing product. Not only do they help users take action and understand the interface, but they can also be decisive in critical steps of your product. If the copy is consistent, they can give you the feeling that you are always navigating through the same website. The style of the language used must match the brand and be consistent throughout the website.

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