Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Identity, privacy and preferences

About 6 months ago, I was interested in how non-computer related industries provide information to consumers without confusing them with technical explanations. Good examples of this are in food label regulations and house and electrical product energy certificates. The units of measure are typically hard for a consumer to put into context without deep knowledge of the field. This made me think about how website domain names, SSL certificates and mobile application capability acceptances are communicated with the consumer. There is certainly a lot of meta data available in these areas. However, they are not written or targeted in a way for a consumer to understand and provide context. A good example of this is accessing when web sites, are they trusted, what does the certifcate actually mean, what is encryption and so on. It appears some thought has been put to this in Firefox but there is little or nothing for the user to reference when they don't understand. With the whole web and social media at our finger tips, perhaps this can provide a solution. Also when downloading a mobile application, before you install there are a whole load of things you 'ought' to read before accepting and then installing the app, but of course I doubt many do. If an app will access your contacts, you really ought to be aware of this other than just a bullet point of text somewhere in the T&Cs. So how can this be communicated? How does a user know what something is going to use and when it has been used? I am going to start illustrating some use cases over the next month, to try and open to debate how this could be done, or at least a starting point. I want to do this more in pictures or storyboards than essays of text, this is meant to be a consumers viewpoint of the experience rather than what is in place from a technical point of view. Anyway ... watch this space.