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Privace By Design

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Building privacy in design, for improved UI and UX:

Most of us enjoyed reading books growing up. If you liked reading about sports, you were likely to find a weekly newsletter in your school library. Now, imagine if you went to a library and asked the librarian where the latest issue is. The librarian points to a corner where you would find it. You thanked the librarian and went on your way. A few minutes later, you hear the librarian talking on the phone to her colleague, and you overhear her tell her friend about your reading habits and share a laugh over it. You’re right there. You’re confused. Next thing, everyone in school jokes about your passionate interest in women’s tennis, and you’re embarrassed for no particular reason. You wish there was more privacy.

Now, in the real world, this is unlikely to happen to you in a library. People seem to mind their own business. But in the virtual world of the internet, there is always someone spying on you. And websites don’t always seem to protect your privacy either. If you’re a brand, this is so much more important to understand. Your website is the point of contact between you, and your consumers. This is the one place where trust is paramount. So when we talk about Privacy by Design, what do we really mean?

In the words of Dr Ann Cavoukan,

“Privacy knows no borders: we have to protect privacy globally or we protect it nowhere!”

Dr Ann Cavoukan is the industry thought leader when it comes to privacy by design. In the 1990s, she pioneered this framework by creating seven principles that help incorporate privacy into the design. These are:

Proactive, not reactive. Preventive, not remedial.

It is always better to avoid a mishap than to apologize for it. This principle implies that the privacy policy of your website should always look to stay updated and be early to adapt changes, rather than avoid being too late to the trend.

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Privacy as the default setting

This will help your website navigate through the perils of mismanagement of data. Only collect the cookies you need, avoid requesting personal data unless necessary, and always specify the purpose for which you need their data.

Privacy embedded in the design

Rather than being an afterthought, privacy should be integral, and the core of your website. Make it the first cornerstone of your information architecture.

Full-functionality – Positive sum, not zero-sum

You no longer have to choose between privacy or accessibility. You can have both. When you do, it’s a win-win, like it ought to be.

End to end security – Full lifecycle protection

From first visiting a website to logging out of it, data must be protected at all times. There are simply no compromises here.

Visibility and transparency – Keep it open

Your website’s privacy policy and standards must be visible to users, as well as providers. This builds trust, which in turn creates goodwill.

Respect for user privacy – Keep it user-centric

Your website is for consumers. It is important to keep it user-centric and offer a strong privacy policy.

When these seven principles were introduced in the 1990s, they were overlooked by many. But the times always change, and in today’s business environment, ethics play a key role. Which is why in 2018, General Data Protection Rights (GDPR) made Privacy by Design a key parameter for websites to be measured by.

Another important aspect of Privacy by Design is that it humanizes your website’s User Interface and User Experience. The regard for privacy is a human trait, which comes from a place of understanding and empathy. Privacy by Design implies requiring lesser data input from users and fewer cookies (only as many as necessary), which also improves accessibility, simply because there are lesser banners and notifications when a user logs in to your website.

This virtue helps the user feel relaxed and comfortable at your domain. And when users feel that way, they are more likely to purchase your product, service or even recommend it to other users! 

This unique value proposition can not only help your business convert leads and generate sales but also expand on the digital domain, with several cross-platform marketing opportunities.

The simple regard for one’s privacy is a human thing. When our digital touchpoints also show these attributes, we add a feeling of security and comfort which human beings tend to desire. Privacy by Design introduces this to brands and organizations, by simply guiding them to make a more human connection. After all, who would ever trust a librarian that likes to gossip?

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