Sep 29, 2021

5 User Experience Design Must-haves for Cybersecurity Products

John Meyers
Marketing Manager

Win new customers and delight existing ones with these 5 design practices.

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology.” — Steve Jobs

It’s not enough to have the most feature-rich cybersecurity product on the market — your users also need to find it indispensable in helping them do their jobs more effectively.

When tasked with improving user experience, companies often explore redesigning their product.

But before breaking out your sketchpad, know that rethinking your product’s design takes more than changing a few shapes and colors. Especially in a notoriously complex realm like cybersecurity, a simple facelift isn’t going to cure all your user’s pains.

However, not all hope is lost. Through empathy and understanding, it’s absolutely possible to bring consumer-grade delight to your users.

How? We’ve put together a list of 5 research-backed UX design tips to help you create a top-tier user experience:

Tip #1: Tailor your product to specific users

One thing to understand about your users is that no two are alike. “One-size-fits-all” products that don’t consider different user workflows are seldom useful because of their tendency to create extra steps and add unnecessary clutter that interrupts a user’s workday.

“One-size-fits-all” products that don’t consider different user workflows are seldom useful

Instead, having solutions that are modularized and tailored to the unique roles of your client’s ecosystem is a more user-friendly approach, ensuring your user completes their tasks faster and easier.

For example, a CISO might want plenty of dashboards to get a quick overview of their organization’s security, while a SecOps Engineer might want access to a detailed log of vulnerability data.

By tailoring your product to specific users, roles, and contexts, you’re making it easier for your users to access and digest relevant information; this helps them complete their tasks more efficiently.

Tip #2: Present relevant information in bite-sized chunks

Your users want to see information… but only what’s relevant to them, and they don’t want to be bombarded with it all at once.

A wise user once told us: “just because you have the data doesn’t mean you need to show all of it.” To avoid paralyzing your users with every bit of data available, take a step back and imagine yourself as a user…

Why are you looking at this data? What data do you need to see front and center? How would you want the data to be organized? Does the data point you to a clear and actionable next step?

Undoubtedly, there will be times when your user will need to drill down into the vast data available to gain deeper insights. For those times, create an option for users to peel back the layers and analyze the different variables that make up aggregated indicators.

Just because you have the data doesn’t mean you need to show all of it.

Presenting your users the right information at the right time improves their workflow, creating fewer headaches.

Tip #3: Make data meaningful and actionable

Always, data should communicate “so what?” and “now what?” Over the course of their day, your user will be consuming huge quantities of data to identify and mitigate risks, so they need to understand the significance of what they’re seeing and what actions to take.

Unclear users make mistakes.

Imagine one of your users stumbles across a metric that’s indicating a security threat. You don’t want them clicking through data to neutralize the potential threat.

Unclear users make mistakes. Recently, a CitiBank contractor accidentally sent $893 million to a group of creditors because the wrong box was checked on a confusing payment form.

Data should communicate “so what?” and “now what?”

It’s important for your users to understand the context around a particular event so they can determine if they need to investigate further. For example, a retailer selling ski equipment expects low sales in the summer months but will want to investigate a downtick in sales during the winter months.

Relevance and context are key to providing value to users. Show data in a time and place to make it matter most, and in correlation to other data points that will add significance.

Tip #4: Make important data easily visible

Having meaningful and actionable data is not enough if it’s impossible to find. Users need to understand the state of their organization’s security at a quick glance, so they can’t spend extra time searching for basic information.

Having meaningful and actionable data is not enough if it’s impossible to find.

Dashboards allow your users to get a synthesized view of the data that’s relevant to them to give them a quick and clear indication of the state of their organization’s security. A well-structured Information Architecture helps them quickly navigate so they can take action quickly.

Tip #5: Eliminate alert fatigue

Has this happened to you? An alert pops up on your screen, then in a few minutes, you get another, then another…then another. Very quickly, you search for the “x” to close the alert instead of reading the text.

“Alert fatigue” is real, and it poses a threat to overall security.”

“Alert fatigue” is real, and it poses a threat to overall security. When users are overwhelmed with too many alerts, the chances of them missing security issues increases exponentially.

Make alerts effective by making them relevant to a specific user quickly cutting through the noise, addressing what they need to remedy, and giving a more pleasant experience with the product. Other best practices to reduce the cognitive load are things like severity rankings, grouping of similar alerts, and visual cues to indicate the type of alert.

Delivering great experiences in a complex domain is not easy. We hope that these 5 tips help you understand what works and what doesn’t, and will help you create a product experience that delights and retains your users.

If you want to get an expert’s opinion on your cybersecurity product’s user experience, click here and get actionable feedback on how to improve your product so it delivers an experience that delights your users.

P.S. Here’s a handy infographic that you can use as a cheat sheet to remember these tips (we’ve thrown in 3 bonus tips).

P.P.S. Check out how we’ve helped CloudVector, an API company, transform its product to increase user productivity by 45%.

About the Author
John is the Marketing Manager at UXReactor where he plans and executes multi-channel digital marketing campaigns to generate leads and create brand awareness.

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