Scout Brody is executive director of Simply Secure, a nonprofit that works to make security and privacy technologies usable by technologically unsophisticated people by focusing on usability and human factors.
In a short, smart interview with the O'Reilly Security Podcast (MP3, Brody talks about how a humanistic, human-centered mindset is essential to producing usable (and hence, effective) security. Critically, she also offers excellent advice on how to bring these human-centered practices into your product and service design.
I volunteer on Simply Secure's advisory board, and really believe in this work.
A powerful tool you can adopt when talking to users is cognitive walkthrough. In essence, you ask them to tell you what they're thinking as they're thinking it. So, if you're going to do a cognitive walkthrough for an encryption program, you might say, ‘I'd like you to encrypt this email message. Please tell me what you're doing as you're doing it and all of the thoughts that occur to you.’ You might hear someone say, ‘Oh, wow, okay, so I'm going to encrypt. I don't really know what I'm doing. I'm going to start by pushing this button because that looks good. That's green. I'm going to push that.’ You can really hear the thought process that people are going through.
If you're in a more formal user study context, it can be useful to get the user's consent to videotape—not necessarily the person, but the screen—and see what they're doing because then you can play it for your colleagues. This is one of the most convincing ways you can make a case that your tool has problems or your tool needs improvement. Thus, just by videotaping people trying to use a tool and showing the challenges they face, you can identify ways to improve the user experience.
Scout Brody on crafting usable and secure technologies
McMansion Hell is a hilarious blog where Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute graduate student Kate Wagner posts scorching critiques of the architecture of McMansions — but this week, Wagner announced that she had shut down her blog after spurious legal threats from Zillow, which admits that it doesn’t even hold the copyrights to the images it […]
The Flux chair is a $130, 12lb “origami-style” polypropylene lounge chair designed by Douwe Jacobs; it sets up in minutes and is stable and lovely (there’s also a $65 kids’ version and a whole range of furnishings including a bar, coffee table, countertop, end-table, etc). (via Yanko Design)
The first time Merle Rasmussen played Dungeons & Dragons, he thought it was a Halloween game.
“It was October 1975, and I was an 18-year-old freshman at Iowa State University. My roommate got this game filled with skeletons and undead monsters. I had no idea.” The role-playing bug had bitten him, but fantasy wasn’t his genre. So that same year, he started writing a game set in a modern world, the spy game that would become Top Secret.
Despite the upfront cost, electric toothbrushes are much better at removing plaque than those freebies from the dentist’s office. For those who struggle to fill the American Dental Association’s recommended two minutes of brushing time, or anyone with limited dexterity, a sonic toothbrush can give your oral care routine a boost.To keep your chops healthy […]
Learning a new language will give your resume an upgrade, sure, but it will also provide a huge cognitive boost for mental tasks outside of translation and conversation. Bilingual brains have been shown to be better at handling multiple concurrent tasks, and gaining fluency in a new tongue is an amazing way to improve memory, […]
If you struggle to get a good night’s rest, consider replacing your pillows before dropping hundreds on a new mattress. You can give your tired neck a break with a 2-pack of memory foam pillows, available now in the Boing Boing Store.Each of these pillows is stuffed with cooling polyurethane foam that molds to your […]