With taking the responsibility of allowing users to share personal data, Facebook has revised its terms and conditions multiple times so that these are properly understood by us. People from around the world use it so it is important that these are explained in simple and user-friendly language. For any company (not just facebook), when the data being hosted is sensitive it is required that it is clearly communicated how it would be used, or shared with anyone else outside/inside the company.
In general, data and privacy policies are long paragraphs and huge chunks of data. I can’t remember, when was the last time I read all the terms and conditions and was 100% confident that I reviewed it and understood it. Most often we trust the app/tool and agree the conditions, unless there is something very specific mentioned in the policy that draws our attention towards it. But, we all know that with the internet growing rapidly there are chances of our data being hacked and misused. So not everyone of us would agree to certain conditions.
Let’s try to remember, how did we create our Facebook account. We go to the Facebook login page to sign up for an account.
We fill up all the details and click on “Sign Up”, boom! We are done creating the account! But is that it? Did we miss to do something? Maybe some of you didn’t but most of us did miss something — Reading and 100% understanding the Terms, Data Policy and Cookies Policy. The below highlighted section contains all the policies we agree to when we sign up.
In my opinion, when it comes to social media apps an extra step should be taken to make sure our customers really understand the policies. It does mean the sign up process becomes longer, but that’s a compromise. It may take a little longer time, but it is not necessary that the user experience won’t be delightful.
What if the sign up looked something like this, before begining to sign up?
Once we read the Terms, Data Policy and Cookies Policy we agree to sign up. Then it is the same current login page. We could probably guess that users may have opened the policies and scrolled till bottom and checked the “I agree…” box. But that doesn’t solve the actual problem still. Opening the policies does not necessarily mean reading and understanding it. The bigger problem is about policies being long, complex and plain. They are not engaging. Moreover, once the account is created it is hard to share the revised terms and conditions. Facebook has been trying to share the updated policies by showing them inline or through notifications.
But, what if the policies were more engaging? Could we use visuals and illustrations to explain them? Could we use animations? Or may be gifs?
A picture is worth 1000 words.
I experimented with using gifs by going through the actual Data policy that facebook has. It is huge — more than 4200 words as per this article. Since I created these designs, I do think I now understand the policies a little better by going through them word by word 🙂
Here is a design for the first section of the Data policy. My goal here was to summarize the policy briefly through visuals and then share more details about it.
Even though it doesn’t cover the whole details of policy it gives a gist of it. Looking at the gif, you can tell my data is being used “somehow”. To know that somehow there are details. I also think that the data should be broken down into smaller chunks so that it is easy to digest. It is hard to read everything on one page. With the “I have reviewed.. blah blah, I agree to share the information” statement at the bottom one is aware that I am giving some access to my information to facebook. With no action, it is hard to know just by scanning what kind of access permission is being granted.
Alright, moving on once the checkbox is checked, the “Next” button takes to the next section of Data policy. I have designed only two sections of the policy to demonstrate how the policies could be uplifted to communicate the information to customers.
I believe storytelling is very powerful. The more the information goes in flow, the more it makes sense to us. There always a script or structure in storytelling. What if the policies could be structured in a that connected the dots and walk you through each stage?
In the current scenario, the first section was about “what kinds of information do we collect”. Automatically, the next question we think is — what does facebook do with that information, or how is that information being used, tell me more… So, let’s keep that structure in mind and move on to the next section with that model.
I don’t think policies should be long and complex. They should be more engaging and clearly communicate the intentions. Reminding users to read them via email or notifications maybe good, but that does not solve the problem of lack of engagement in reading those policies. Policies could also have humor, motion and animations. They are important part of any web app or mobile application so it is critical to make them fun and interesting.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Please share your feedback/ideas that you may have. Thanks for reading! 🙂