I read an article today ($ to read in full) that highlights the importance of context in design. They tested users of an online auction and the tough issue of security. Security is enhanced if you go through a rigorous registration process, but that time and effort often makes the system less attractive. Two key findings of this study are:
- For users expecting to be using the system for a long time, they preferred the longer, time consuming process that added security.
- For users that had a higher perception of the security risk, they preferred the longer, time consuming process that added security.
Of course, you are probably thinking to yourself, “duh.” But there are implications that seem to be missing from the design approach of many sites that I use.
- For sites that expect users to be long-term focused, or can give them that focus during their marketing pitch, they should be willing to create a more security-focused registration process even if it makes the process longer.
- If a site recognizes that it needs a more security-intensive and therefore longer registration process, they should start by explaining (briefly) to the user why this is important. We take for granted that people know about the risks of identity theft, zombies and worms, phishing, etc. But the number of people who fall victim to these scams suggests that the general public may not have a clue.