Design process

Design Thinking Ideation Techniques You Haven't Tried


mins to read

In a world where we are obsessed with productivity and achievements, it is hard to accept the idea that we have to do something just for the sake of the process. That is the problem with many creative techniques.

As ideation is a part of serious work, people want to be practical and constructive. They don’t want to waste time on things that look like silly kids’ games. Because, why are we trying hard to come up with the worst ideas during the meeting? Shouldn’t we think of our business objectives?

“Creativity” and “thinking out of the box” have been on the list of top skills that all employers are looking for years. As a design agency, we value creative skills in our team — and we know well that it’s a thing that can be learned and nurtured.

Not sure if there are people who can come up with a bunch of great creative ideas on demand, but most of us need special conditions for that.

That is when silly kids’ games are necessary. To awaken that creativity in team members, all those weird activities really help. Imagining the ways of ruining the product, roleplaying the scenes, drawing them… Curious to know how it works? Read below.


The main point of this technique is to draw and write instead of talking. When we visualize our ideas on paper, our thinking process works differently. We can’t express as much as when we’re talking, but we have better focus.

product design sketch
Image credit: matthieu mingasson on Pinterest

There are no rules: it can be a piece of paper for everyone, a flipchart, or a big whiteboard. Some people who are not used to thinking visually might find it intimidating to sketch and show their drawings to others. No need to be shy: it is not about our drawing skills here. Write, draw diagrams, schemes, sketches — what’s important is to let your creativity flow.


The word SCAMPER stands for seven focus points:

  • Substitute
  • Combine
  • Adapt
  • Modify (Magnify, Minify)
  • Put to another use
  • Eliminate
  • Rearrange

We start with a product or a problem that we are working on, and go from S to R, each step gives us a new point of view. This method is all about asking questions, and the questions are more than just seven. 

Each word triggers a few questions. For example, it is not just “What can we substitute in our product?”, but also “Can we change the way our clients think of the product?”, “What if we substitute our target audience with another?” “Can we substitute our sales budget for marketing?”, and so on.

SCAMPER visualisation

Ask as many questions as you can think of, and come up with answers. The answers give us different perspectives on the product — and this is exactly what we are looking for in our ideation process.

This is one of the lateral thinking ideation techniques, which means that the solution is found through looking at the problem from a different angle and approaching the issue in a creative way rather than “rational”.


When asked “what is the most popular ideation technique?”, most people would surely name brainstorming.

Of course, brainstorming won’t be a new thing for you. However, as a popular and effective method, it has lots of variations. Have you heard about brainwriting or figuring storming? There is a whole science behind this seemingly simple method. To learn more about it, read our article on brainstorming strategies.

Apart from those 7 methods described in the abovementioned article, there are many more “storms” that help us to generate new ideas. They deserve a separate book, but we’ll just list one of our favorites.


If you are familiar with crowdsourcing, you’ll understand what crowdstorm means. By “crowd” we mean people outside of the team: customers, fans, members of focus groups, social media followers, and others.

Tweet post asking for ideas for new features
Image credit: Twitter

The ways of connecting with a larger pool of people are various: sending out a questionnaire, tweeting the question, asking the participants of user research sessions, and so on. You can pose the question straightforwardly, or ask for ideas or associations, or pick a few ideas that you’ve already had and ask people to give feedback.

The side effect of this technique is enhanced user engagement: people love to be asked about their opinion. Companies that value the opinion of their customers have a higher level of loyalty.

Crowdstorm can become an introduction to the participatory design approach in your company. Involving all the stakeholders in the design process is an essential part of the holistic design approach.

Journey map

We are used to thinking of a customer journey map as a standard tool for improving user experience. However, they can be useful for generating ideas.

Image credit: LoungeUp

A map gives us a detailed view of all the aspects of user-product interactions. From this overview, we can focus on the points that need our ideas, or, on the contrary, see new opportunities in those parts of the user journey that we haven’t been thinking of.

A customer journey map is a strong tool for both empathizing and ideating. And don’t forget, there are also user journey maps and even employee journey maps. The principle of a journey map can be applied to other issues that are not directly related to user experience.

If you find that visual ideation techniques such as maps work well for your team, you would surely like the next one.


A storyboard is a detailed scenography of some actions related to the product. For example, it can be episodes of user interaction with the product. You have to imagine an episode in detail: sketch it, write lines, try to feel the emotions, imagine different scenarios.

storyboard comic style
Image credit: Bryant Hodson

If the team feels comfortable with acting, they can even roleplay some short scenes themselves — whatever makes people feel relaxed and free to express their ideas.

Did you know that Airbnb uses storyboards a lot in its product design process? The inspiration for drawing episodes came from Disney’s Snow White. We have written how storyboards changed their way of seeing the business in the article about different types of customer journey maps.

Billionaire dream

The point of this ideation technique is to imagine a situation without any constraints. You have to ask just one question: “If we had an unlimited budget, what would we do with our product?”.

After we have imagined that ideal situation, we can think about which parts of it we can realize with the existing budget, as in the real world. 

“Dreaming big” is useful not only with personal objectives, but also with product design. We often tend to discard ideas before even pronouncing them because we believe that they are unrealistic. In many cases, these ideas are not as impossible as we think.

Reverse thinking

In this technique, we basically just flip the logic of ideation upside down: instead of thinking of the best way to solve the problem, we think of the way to worsen the problem, a way to create more problems, and so on.

Imagining the “worst” ideas can have two outcomes: you may “revert” these ideas to turn them into positive solutions, or you may just approach the whole thing as an “ice-breaker” exercise that prepares the team to express their craziest ideas freely.


This method was invented by George M. Prince and William J.J. Gordon. Synectics is using the power of analogies, finding similarities in different things and differences in similarities.

First of all, you have to phrase the situation that you are working on. Secondly, we come up with an analogy, an example from a different sphere where the situation is somehow similar. When we have found a good analogy, we focus on it and stop thinking about the initial issue for a while.

Team members think of ways to solve the new situation. The ideas are collected and later applied to the initial problem. Some of them might not be applicable, whilst others can bring a completely new solution.


This technique was invented by IDEO, a design firm that was rocking design thinking before it became a buzzword.

As we know, innovative solutions don’t appear from nowhere: usually, it is just two previously existing things combined in an unusual way. That is what the mash-up technique is about: mixing two unrelated things to come up with new ideas.

Where do we find these unrelated things? First of all, we have to make a problem statement or the question (by the way, defining the problem properly is crucial for the other ideation techniques as well). The question should start with “How might we”. For example, “How might we make our customers order their medicines for delivery?”.

After that, we pick two categories. One of them should be related to our topic, another — not related at all. Let’s say it can be “pharmacies” and “Disneyland”. Give your team a few minutes to create a list of all the things that come to mind under each category.

Then take one item from each category and combine them in an unexpected way: for example, “painkillers sold by Mickey Mouse”. Don’t expect each combination to be a potential answer to the initial question. The objective is to generate new ideas, and only then evaluate them and see if there is something real.

How might we prevent monotony in office work? Category 1. Elements of working in an office  Category 2. Types of childhood play

To sum up

Ideation techniques are endless, just like good ideas. You can use one of these for inspiration, combine a few of them, or invent a completely new one. There is no single way to generate new ideas. The only rule is to express ideas freely and go beyond the frames of the most common way of thinking.

The main points of ideation techniques are:

  • make everyone feel comfortable to express anything that comes on their mind
  • ask unusual questions to get original answers
  • shift the focus from problem-solving to the creative process

So what can we do with all these crazy and genius ideas? That’s the next step of our work! Learn how to apply design thinking in product design in our article Design Thinking Examples: Five Real Stories.

Masha Panchenko


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Design process
min read

9 Hot SaaS Ideas to Improve Remote Work

Digital transformation, accelerated by COVID-19, has opened many new opportunities for many businesses, but most of all, it has changed the way we work. According to Global Workplace Analytics, almost 70% of U.S. workers telecommuted at the peak of the lockdown, and 82% of American employees want to work remotely at least once a week after the pandemic ends. This recent experience has proven that work from home (WFH) can be productive and therefore will have a lasting impact.

As a SaaS design team that has gone fully remote at the beginning of 2020, we love to keep track of new tools for remote work (RW) that appear on the market today. Moreover, we had a chance to notice that more and more startup owners that come to us for UI/UX design, want their products to help people create a more convenient and well-organized RW. 

The truth is, that even without a pandemic, having a reliable tool stack that keeps your team connected is crucial for modern businesses’ success.

In this article, we are going to discuss nine interesting remote work startup ideas based on challenges that both employers and employees face while working remotely.

Biggest remote work challenges and how technologies can help overcome them

Undoubtedly, remote work has many benefits for everyone, from the ability to cut costs, decrease employee turnover and access a wider talent pool for employers, to additional freedom, time, and money-saving for workers. But simply going remote and expecting to live happily ever after won’t work as there are a number of challenges that this new environment brings.

That’s why entrepreneurs try to come up with tools that can recreate the usual work process we all got used to for a new way of working. And some problem areas are a bit overlooked and are still waiting for a decent solution to come. Let’s take a look at several ideas on how to work remotely more effectively.

Team bonding

Image credit: achurchconsulting.com

Working from home has robbed us of such joys as dining together with teammates, having office competitions, sharing news during water cooler chattings, and so on. Being together in the office used to help us come up with creative ideas and think outside the box. 

Therefore, employers are thinking of ways to help their team members get to know each other, build trust, and create networks while being online.

Even though you're not working in the same physical space, there are still ways to make your team feel connected and engaged. Think about how customer support teams care and communicate with customers, and apply that in your SaaS startup.

One great tool that can help resolve this issue is Hibob. As the pandemic shut physical workplaces, Hibob noticed its customers looking for new means to promote two-way interaction between management and staff members. The system’s survey function enabled project managers to obtain feedback from workers concerning their needs to effectively do their job no matter where they are.

As well, Hibob decided to provide businesses with an alternative way to recreate water cooler chatting. Now, Hibob has Clubs that staff join to share their thoughts, anonymous chats to state what they don’t like, and Shoutouts to announce company-wide messages regarding promotions, personal info, new team members, and so forth.

Image credit: hibob.com

So, can you come up with your version of the virtual water cooler chat? Think about it.

Onboarding and enablement of a remote/distributed team

Image credit: helpjuice.com

Even if your team is working remotely, this does not mean that the hiring has stopped. And onboarding those who just got a job can be difficult if you don’t have a chance to communicate face-to-face. Additionally, you still need to implement new tools, refine work processes, and integrate all these changes into the employee’s workflow.

The problem is that most employers present updates in the form of online presentations, LMS courses, or during video conferences, and workers tend to forget all the information right after they’ve heard it. So, there is a need for software that deals with training and enablement

One of the most successful SaaS startups addressing this challenge is Spekit, a digital adoption and enablement platform that businesses may use to train, communicate changes, conduct onboarding, and reinforce knowledge for their teams without leaving the apps they use. 

Spekit has an integrated approach that makes training, documentation, and enablement resources automatically appear contextually directly in a place your worker needs. For example, when an employee is trying to create a sales opportunity in Salesforce, they can hover over the Spekit icon to watch a quick tutorial on how and when to create an opportunity.

Image credit: sourceforge.net

Lack of office routine

When you work in an office, everything is quite clear: you come at 9 o'clock, and leave at 6 (in case you have a typical working day). This is not the case with remote work. When nobody is managing your time but yourself, it may be difficult to get focused, keep away from distractions, and consistently manage your work-life balance. You can, of course, opt for a coworking space or work from a cafe, but you still have to record all your activities and share the progress with colleagues.

For that reason, there is a need for a tool that can help organize the day, track activities, and share the progress with a team. The thing is, such a tool should be extremely intuitive and easy to use so that it doesn’t take additional time to manage it.

Tymewise is a time tracking tool designed by Eleken’s team. It perfectly targets freelancers and small agencies as Tymewise has all the needed functionality and at the same time is super user-friendly and transparent. You can track your time, get informative reports, manage your teams and projects, and this all is possible without wasting time figuring out how to use the app.

Report tab

Team collaboration

Image credit: canto.com

Getting together for a brainstorming session, exchanging ideas, and sharing opinions about different issues is very challenging for a remote team. Employees can't just drop in the boss's office to quickly present an interesting thought, there's often a delay between messages because of online communication and it all may lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding. Companies need advanced solutions for remote team collaboration.

The software that solves the issue with brainstorming sessions great is Miro. It looks like a virtual whiteboard with everything needed: sticky notes, mapping diagrams, ready-made templates. People like Miro as it manages to closely replicate the real experience and keep it engaging.

Image credit: miro.com

While Miro helps with brainstorming, another great app that allows real-time interactions is Tandem. It is a remote work app that shows what each team is working on right now and lets users join in one click (with a shared cursor). To feel a better connection, users can communicate in minimal voice/video calls.

Image credit: tandem.chat

But still, even with such great products as Tandem and Miro, remote collaboration tools are not perfect. For example, all digital means of communication miss body language, which causes misinterpretations, affects productivity, and innovation. So, there is still a place for new remote collaboration solutions.

Document collaboration

Image credit: scnsoft.com

While we’ve just mentioned the problem of team collaboration, as a part of it, we also want to highlight a not less important issue of interaction with documents.  

The most common problem that companies face is that they deal with documents, tasks, internal communication, and so on, all in different tools that are not aligned. As a result, to get feedback on a document an employee has to create a draft in Google Docs, copy and paste its URL in a messenger, mention colleagues they want to receive the feedback from (oh, and don’t forget to share access to that draft), change the task progress in a project management tool, mention those colleagues who didn’t respond once again, make edits, and do several more steps until the final document is edited and approved. 

As a result, the process is too long and too complicated. 

Almanac, a collaborative documentation software for distributed teams understood that while apps like Google Docs or Microsoft Word are great for editing, they are terrible at helping you manage your work. People have the information scattered across emails, chats, to-do lists, and so forth making collaboration not simple at all. 

With Almanac users can not only edit their documents but also review, approve, merge, view history, and organize their company information in a way that is convenient for them. In the end, you receive the high-quality experience of Google Docs, empowered by the best features from project management software.

Image credit: techcrunch.com

Payroll management for distributed teams

Image credit: paysquare.com

In our new reality, even large companies that used to be solely office-oriented don’t mind hiring remote first-class talents. At the same time, businesses allow their workers to move to other cities, countries, and even continents. This means that employers have to deal with taxes, different costs of living, contract work vs full-time nuances, and so forth.

For that reason, there is a need for a tool that focuses on managing payrolls of distributed teams that aren’t located in physical offices. 

One of such platforms is Papayaglobal. It works perfectly for distributed teams as it guarantees correct and on-time payment in more than 160 countries, payroll will comply with all local labor laws and tax codes, and access to a great support team with in-house experts, and in-country partners.

Papayaglobal is a tool for managing payrolls

Meetings scheduling

Image credit: medium.com

In the office, if you need to find out something from a colleague, you go and ask them, and when you are to meet a new client/conduct an interview with a new candidate, you can invite them to visit you physically. At a distance, such processes are not that simple.

Calling your teammates each time you need advice is a solution, but calls must be agreed upon in advance (at least an hour). Contacting a person without warning them is accepted only in case of a threat to life or other great danger. Adding the fact that, perhaps, many companies now have personnel who are scattered across different time zones and locations is making scheduling appointments very difficult.

That’s why businesses are looking for a tool that can help them get rid of email mess, numerous messages, back-and-forth phone calls, and finding one available time in everyone’s calendar. 

Commanddot is a cloud tool that allows you to quickly and easily book meetings from where you work. It runs in Google Chrome and uses the information from your calendars to coordinate meetings in Gmail, Slack, Linkedin, and more. That is, CommandDot shows if you are available, but doesn’t require you to check the calendar, or memorize any additional information.

Image credit: commanddot.com

Holding events

Image credit: charitydigital.org.uk

With the beginning of COVID-19, all events went virtual. And hosting online conferences is not a piece of cake. First of all, people are fed up with spending all day in front of their screens, and can’t hold their attention for a long time. Additionally, it’s very challenging to come up with ideas on how to make such an event both useful and engaging. Finally, there aren't many event-holding solutions on the market that allow hosting high-quality large-scale events. 

Hopin is one of the companies that managed to identify this gap and created a great tool for hosting virtual events starting from one-on-one meetings and ending with the 50,000-person annual conference.

Participants can enjoy a speaker on the main stage, visit a workshop session, check out digital exposition or have an individual meeting with other guests within a particular event. One of the greatest benefits of this platform is its modern, customizable, and extremely easy-to-use interface.

Image credit: pcma.org

Managing hybrid workplaces

Image credit: flexjobs.com

As we are talking about work from home future, we see the tendency that fully remote work evolves into a hybrid: workers can stay at home and attend office when they need to meet and collaborate with colleagues. So, how about generating a startup idea for this work model?

That’s what Envoy did. Envoy is an office visitors registration system based in San Francisco that started to expand with the beginning of COVID-19. Now it’s a desk-reservation system that helps employees find places to collaborate with each other so that they can get their work done smoothly and safely while being in the office. 

It gives companies the flexibility to scale up and down depending on changing capacity requirements. Businesses can understand how many employees are coming in and out of the office, so they can keep them safely apart.

Coming up with an interesting remote tool idea in your head is only the first little step. Next, you will probably be tormented by numerous doubts. So, let’s briefly talk about major fears you as an aspiring SaaS idea seeker might have.

What is going on in the remote-work tooling industry?

Tools for SaaS startups are seeing great acceleration today because of the remote-work boom brought by Covid-19. With so many types of SaaS software existing today, no wonder that there are many willing to snatch a piece from this trendy industry. 

Here are three popular questions that will help you better understand if it’s worthy to start a business in this field.

Isn’t the market oversaturated with narrow-focused WFH solutions?

Fast Company forecasts that RW applications are going to become a norm, even for onsite workers. For example, mobile work tools and VR conferencing will certainly end up being the favored type of interaction, even over in-person meetings. AI will likely play a significant role in managing remote staff as well.

Therefore, from a corporate buyer perspective, businesses are seeing a solid need for single-purpose RW apps, first-rate in their category.

In case companies start returning to offices, won’t they stop using their remote software?

According to a survey conducted by Inspired, only 12% of employees would like to continue working as they did before the pandemic. Such statistics prove that remote software is going to stay with us for longer. 

And those who are still afraid that their product may become useless in a post-COVID environment should take care that it integrates into the on-premise work model as well.

What about RW startups economics in comparison to a common SaaS startup?

The answer to this question will differ depending on the issue and target audience that some specific RW tool deals with. We've noticed that RW products that have hyper-specialization on a specific use case and clearly-defined potential target users often have better unit economic benchmarks of the business than other startups.

To sum up, remote-tooling startup economics are at least at the same level as thor SaaS peers. 

How to make sure my work-from-home startup idea will pop and win?

Depending on the industry, the needs of remote staff will differ. And there may be far more remote working startup ideas that cope with a variety of issues except those we’ve discussed in this article. But the question is: if there are so many existing tools, and many of them have almost identical feature sets, how can one product break out and win?

Well, except for learning about SaaS trends, it’s also important to define what unique value proposition your product is going to offer and make sure your customers experience it as quickly as possible.

Already have a well-thought-out product idea? At Eleken, we can help you study your users and put a lot of thought into building design elements that communicate your product's value in a way that appeals to your customers. Contact us for further consultation.

Design process
min read

The Art of Balancing Security and UX Design

A cybersecurity guy I know once told me that a computer can be truly safe only when it’s unplugged and buried 20 feet underground. Users are the main vulnerability in any system, so security experts’ pipe dream is to hide their clients’ systems away from everyone. 

UX designers have dramatically different dreams. Designers believe the users’ journey through the web app should be smooth and easy, consisting of no more than three clicks. They evangelize users’ needs and they are those who prevent security experts from burying computers underground. 

Can you feel this tension between designers and security?

security and UX design

Security tries to lock everything down. Interface designers try to make everything easy to use. Looks like security and usability are the two players in a zero-sum game — making something secure inevitably makes it hard to use, making something easy to use inevitably makes it less secure.

But security and usability can co-exist. To debunk the mythical relationship between the two, we need to consider three statements:

  • People don’t care about security
  • Security ≠ locking everything down 
  • Design ≠ making things easy 

Let's start from the top.

People don’t care about security

Not entirely true. They care, but in a long-term perspective. Everyone wants their personal data and property to be safe, that’s why people set expensive door locks and security cameras.

But bumping into a sudden security notification is something different, something that can be pretty irritating. Because at the particular moment when you open the particular app, you are doing it for a reason, and the reason is not security, but the job that has to be done. 

And a sudden pop-up that tells you “your connection is probably somewhat insecure” is a dusty little roadblock between you and your goal. People don’t care about roadblocks. They look for ways around roadblocks, and always find them.

What if a door you often use requires an entry badge that you don’t have? You’d probably find a brick and use it to keep the door open.

If your employer forces you to reset passwords every month, chances are that you’ll write them down on sticky notes so that you don’t forget them.

An average person has passwords from 100 different accounts. 100 is too many to remember so it’s hardly surprising that people either use very simple passwords or have a few and reuse them for all accounts.

When security is something that obstructs the process, people will find a workaround. Make something too secure, and it becomes less secure.

We can conclude that building security walls in front of people trying to do their job doesn’t work, but there are other approaches that do work.

Security ≠ locking everything down

There’s UX security that doesn’t lock anything — it keeps users safe and stays invisible for them. The evolution of CAPTCHA is the perfect illustration of how it is possible.

Fun fact: did you know that CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart?” Those security people can’t help themselves but keep over-complicating things. No wonder that first text CAPTCHAs were insoluble for both humans and bots.

The next generation of CAPTCHAs with pictures where you had to select bicycles, buses, or traffic lights was better, but they still made you feel like you were wasting your life.

Then Google presented its “I’m not a robot” checkbox that let us a sigh of relief. And as a final point, Google gave us “no CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA” that makes you do literally nothing to prove you’re a human.

Malicious bots don’t necessarily watch cat videos on YouTube before proceeding with their malicious business. So if Google AI believes your previous internet behavior appears to be human, it doesn’t make you lift a finger. Only if Google is still unsure of your true nature, it will make you solve CAPTCHA as an additional security measure. 

But not all security features can be made invisible, like CAPTCHA. You often need users to perform some action. When you ask them to create strong passwords or enable two-factor authentication, it obviously creates roadblocks on user journeys. Yet the feelings caused by those roadblocks fully depend on the design.

Remember the last time an app asked you to create a complex password? It probably made you read a long list of requirements (and question your life choices). And that's if you're lucky. If you’re not, the long requirements list appeared only after you coined your password — to say your password is invalid because it lacks an uppercase letter, a number, a hieroglyph, and a feather from a hawk.

In this latter case, the interface violates the key principle of human-centered design: visibility. Users should know, just by looking at an interface, what their options are and how to access them. If they don’t know the rules of the game, the error notification turns a little password roadblock into an irritating blockage on their way. We can definitely do better.

Look at Mailchimp’s elegant solution to the password problem. First, they have all the requirements laid out, so you don’t have to play a guessing game. Second, requirements update as you type. The way the list greys out items as users type is a great example of a system giving users clear and instant feedback on their actions. Follow simple design for security principles, and you will minimize the nuisance value of your security measures.

password best practice by Mailchimp
Image credit: www.reallygoodux.io

Design ≠ making things easy

Some things are intended to be easy to use but aren’t. Other things are deliberately difficult to use — and ought to be. You can't tell one from the other unless you understand:

  • A specific user’s intent
  • At a specific time
  • In a specific place

Such mindfulness is difficult to get. To understand users so deeply, designers need to address the whole design thinking circle:

  • To run user research
  • Then crystalize all the findings in user personas and user journeys
  • Make prototypes based on those findings
  • And run user testing to observe what users actually do when using your digital products

If you don’t have the mood for fooling around real users’ intents and want to start designing right now, you may decide to start with the assumption that users want everything to be easy. That’s a pretty logical but sometimes wrong assumption. Proved by Citibank.

A few months ago, Citibank was trying to make $7.8M in interest payments. It sent $900M instead, and it was recognized as one of the biggest blunders in banking history. How does something like that happen? 

It all went wrong because a responsible person failed to check two extra boxes in a form. Let’s take a look at the form:

Image credit: trymyui.com 

The screen looks like it came from the early 90s, which is a problem on its own. The interface obviously violates the principles of visibility and feedback. When you’re looking at the form, you have no idea how to make the required payment. When you wonder "What happened?" and "What does it mean?", the interface remains mysteriously silent. All set for a huge mistake.

But what is more interesting is how the system reacts to an inevitable mistake. 

When you try to transfer the amount that is a hundred times more than usual, that’s atypical behavior. So atypical, that Google would suspect you are a bot and offer you to solve a CAPTCHA.

If Citibank’s interface had suspected that something went wrong, it would have shown a dialog box, asking whether you really want to transfer nearly $1 billion. If you didn't mean to, you’d decline the action, and the day would be probably saved. But it looks like nothing like that happened because three people reviewed the parameters of Citibank’s fatal payment and OK'ed them without a doubt.

Citibank’s system is obviously overcomplicated if we look at its interface. But it’s oversimplified in terms of security. If you had asked Citibank on that doomsday whether they’d like to have one little cybersecurity UX design roadblock preventing them from blindly OKing atypical operations, they would have definitely said “Yes”.

The clever design should draw users’ attention to peak moments in their experience. Mailchimp illustrates this point perfectly.

You can’t unsend a sent email. That’s why the moment you press the “Send now” button is very tense, even if your email has only one recipient. Not to mention email campaigns aimed at thousands of people. 

At this peak moment, Mailchimp shows you a know-how-you-feel little stressed monkey’s hand. It emotionally connects the brand with its users and gently encourages people to be mindful when pressing the button.

clever security design meme
Image credit: dev.to

Wrapping up security design principles

  • People don’t care about security. Make something too secure, and they will find a way to bypass it.
  • Security ≠ locking everything down. If you want people to stick to your security measures, you should ideally make them invisible. If you can’t, use UX design to make them feel less like obstacles blocking users on their user journeys.
  • Design ≠ making things easy. If you find yourself making everything fast and easy, you probably need to understand users’ intent deeper. Sometimes you need to slow people down to highlight what's important.

Security without design irritates people so much that it becomes ineffective, and design without security gives people no support in critical situations. So it turns out that user experience and security are far from being divorced. The best-kept secret of security and UX design is that they actually can't survive without each other.

Take one of our latest clients, Polaris. It is a security app that helps to find vulnerabilities in code — that is, their job is to bombard their clients with irritating security notifications. Polaris quickly understood the product design should do its job really, really well to make all those notifications bearable for users. So they came to Eleken for UI/UX design services, and we managed to balance security with usability to minimize friction and ensure a delightful user experience.

A delightful design for Polaris security app
A delightful design for Polaris security app

Want to know how we did it? Read the full story in the Polaris case study.

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