UX Design and Risk Management: Balancing Usability and Security in Critical Systems

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UX Design and Risk Management

When you design critical systems, the implications of security are paramount. But usability is crucial to user adoption, so how can you ensure that you have a system that’s as secure as it needs to be but still serves users?

Fortunately, effective UX design and security can coexist in one system.

Crucial Components of UX Design

UX design is the process used to create products that have meaningful and relevant experiences for users, including usability and functionality. Effective UX design is:

  • Useful: Though obvious, a website or product needs to have a purpose for the target audience.
  • Learnable: No matter how great your website or product is, users need to be able to learn and understand it.
  • Memorable: The design should be simple and memorable enough to allow users to step back and return without having to relearn everything from scratch.
  • Effective: All products, websites, and apps start out with a goal to determine if they are effective for users.
  • Efficient: Achieving the goal is one part of the equation, but your product should be able to accomplish it quickly.
  • Desirable: Desirability is somewhat intangible, but it’s shaped by your brand’s image and reputation, which filter into the product.
  • Accessible: Your product or website should serve more than just users with all of their senses. Accessibility allows any user, including those with sight, hearing, touch, motion, or learning impairments, to use it.

Risk Management Principles

Now that UX design is outlined, we can look at the principles of risk management and how they impact your critical system.

Identifying and Assessing Risk

Developing a risk management plan begins with identifying and assessing potential risks. This requires a thorough review of the system and its components to identify vulnerabilities, as well as evaluate external threats.

Implementing Security Measures and Controls

Once threats have been identified, you can implement security measures and controls like secure coding practices, access controls, and intrusion detection systems. It’s important to consider technical and organizational controls, user behavior, and training to reduce the likelihood of an attack.

Establishing Response Plans

  • Even with robust security measures, you need to have a response plan in place to address potential security incidents and identify suspicious behavior. This may include:
  • Network and application monitoring
  • Incident response planning
  • Log analysis and intrusion detection

Continuous Improvement

No security strategy is perfect immediately. It takes continuous learning and improvement to find vulnerabilities and implement changes. It’s also important to stay current on growing trends and new vulnerabilities to adjust your strategy.

Can Usability and Security Exist in Harmony?

Yes, usability and security can and should be in harmony. Here’s how you can strike the right balance during the design process:

Security by (UX) Design

Security needs to be the first and highest priority in designing critical systems. Security by design emphasizes building secure systems at the start of the UX design ops process. This involves conducting a UX audit, identifying security risks, and incorporating solutions into your design, then testing the finished product for security.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a principle that ensures the security of critical systems by adding another step to the identification process before users have access to the system. MFA requires users to provide two or more forms of identification, creating more robust security measures than a username and password combination.

User Education

Users can often be a weak link in system security. It’s important for users to be educated about the importance of security and how to maintain it, which includes best practices for creating strong passwords, identifying phishing attempts, and keeping their devices secure. Users who are informed and cautious are more likely to safeguard their information and play a role in protecting the system’s security.

Building secure, usable systems begins with the design process

Balancing usability and security is a challenge with critical systems, but considering both at the outset of the design process can ensure that neither aspect of the finished product are neglected along the way. With the right security measures and protocols, you can ensure that you have secure systems that are safeguarded against potential threats while providing an experience that encourages adoption and retention.

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Jinny Oh is a globetrotting entrepreneur, angel investor, and renowned UX professional with a passion for Design Thinking. Embracing a fully nomadic lifestyle, Jinny has founded WANDR, an award-winning product strategy and UX design firm that operates with a remote team of experts. With a diverse clientele spanning over 300 startups, US Air Force and Fortune 500 companies like IBM, Geico, and Adobe, Jinny has propelled WANDR to the forefront of the industry. As an advocate for Design Thinking and Remote Work, Jinny has shared her expertise as a keynote speaker, equipping them with the skills needed to excel in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

One comment

  1. Valuable insights! This blog adeptly addresses the balance between UX design and risk management in critical systems. Striking this equilibrium is vital for success. Thanks for sharing this insightful viewpoint!

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