How to Enhance User Data Security With UX Design

At times, it can feel like UX design and data privacy are at odds. Great UIs often use a lot of data to personalize their experiences and security can seem too technical to accommodate seamless, aesthetically pleasing designs. However, that’s not always the case — in fact, good security and great UX need each other.

While WordPress is highly secure in its own right, you need to take cybersecurity into your hands. Keeping it in mind as you design your website will help you create something that only looks great, works well and keeps users safe. Here are a few ways you can enhance data security through your UX.

1. Make Security Simple

The first and most important step in security-minded UX is to make cybersecurity easy. Having top-notch security features is only helpful if people use them. In a world where 95% of cybersecurity issues (PDF) involve human error, making the safest thing the easiest is the only way to ensure people follow best practices.

People won’t use multi-factor authentication (MFA) — which makes hacking 99% less likely — if it requires too many steps to set up. This is where your UX expertise comes in handy. You can create a nice MFA setup menu that takes just a few clicks. To streamline the process, use seamless methods like biometrics or SMS instead of email or security questions.

This guiding principle of simplicity applies to many assets of security. Settings like opting out of cookie collection should be easy to navigate and adjust. Use widgets for secure payment apps like PayPal to make it easier to make safer transactions.

2. Be Transparent

Similarly, you can boost security through UX by being transparent about data privacy issues. Despite rising cybercrime, 60% of internet users aren’t worried about what information about them is available online. That disconnect largely comes from a misunderstanding about their data and what affects it, making it hard to make secure choices.

The more transparent and easy to understand you are, the more you empower users to make informed security decisions. Your data policies are a big area to hit under this umbrella. Explain in short sentences and plain, jargon-free terms what you collect and how you use it. Then, tell users how they can adjust their privacy just as succinctly.

Avoid the temptation to over-explain anything. You want to inform users, but pages of information and long paragraphs are bad for UX and security because people won’t read them. Be direct and brief — bullet points and links to more in-depth explanations may help.

person holding iPhone turned on

3. Put Users in Control

Your UX should also give users more control over their security so they can adjust settings to their liking and put your transparency to use. As with everything else, these controls should be simple to navigate, understand and change.

Create a dedicated menu under users’ account settings where they can find all their security and privacy controls. Keep the language here simple and use subheadings to make it easier to scan through.

At the very least, users should be able to enable MFA, change password settings and see what data you’ve collected. It’s also best to let them delete any of this data, and request you not collect some information or cookies. In some areas — like California and the EU — the right to opt out is a matter of law, so it’s safest to include it for all users just in case.

4. Promote Safer Choices

Just because you give people the option to be safe doesn’t mean they will. Consequently, your UX should also encourage users to choose more secure options. The best ways to do that are to make it easier to be more secure and to tell people why it’s important.

Enable MFA by default so people don’t need to change their settings to enjoy the extra security. Restrict cookie collection unless users change their preferences for increased personalization to minimize the personal information you collect.

You should also educate users on why they should use security settings or practice safe behaviors. Changing passwords regularly, for example, is essential for preventing phishing but can get in the way of a seamless UX if you require it. Instead, you could place a short text blurb below login forms informing users how password changes protect their privacy. That way, if they choose not to, they know they’re doing it at their own risk.

person writing on white paper

5. Practice Good Data Governance

Some behind-the-scenes UX design practices can improve your security, too. Regardless of what else you do, you should practice good data hygiene and governance. That boils down to minimizing the data you store and ensuring what you do keep is secure.

You may need to collect some user data to personalize experiences, but you don’t need to hold onto this information forever. Create a system for deleting data after a set period to let you capitalize on it and then get rid of it so it can’t leak.

Encrypting and restricting access to user data is also crucial. Keep in mind, though, that these actions require good UX design on your side. The easier it is for you to navigate through your data, the easier it will be to see what you must delete or where you must improve security. Data mapping plugins can help you with this.

UX Design and Cybersecurity Go Hand in Hand

Many key UX design principles — like the need for simplicity or emphasizing user control — also improve security if you apply them properly. Once you recognize this overlap, you won’t have to choose between a well-functioning website and a secure one.

Security needs UX just as UX needs reliable cybersecurity. Following these five steps will help you bring the two together for a safer and more convenient future.

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