You may call your site audience your “users,” but ultimately, they’re just people. Imperfect people with imperfect lives — sometimes to an extreme degree.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a massive rise in domestic violence. This type of violence can take many forms, including technical abuse, where technology is used to control, harass, or intimidate someone. It can look different in various situations, from an abuser constantly sending phone or text messages to controlling the sites or devices their partner can access. Even sharing a store rewards phone number can have unintended consequences. The range of opportunities for abuse is endless.
In the book Design for Safety,” author Eva PenzeyMoog cites an NPR survey that found “85 percent of shelters they surveyed were helping survivors whose abusers were monitoring their activity and location through technology.” This is an alarming statistic. Domestic violence prevention isn’t something that is taught in schools — how would people know how to protect themselves before it’s too late?
As professionals creating digital products, it’s our responsibility to create “for good.” How can we be advocates for safety in design? According to Design for Safety, as an advocate, you must “support vulnerable users to reclaim power and control.” A website could have an easy-to-use interface but still provide pathways for users to experience abuse from domestic perpetrators. Ultimately, this leaves victims vulnerable while giving them a false sense that they have more control than they genuinely do.
During the website creation process, you should aim to design for safety. A key step is to identify “ways your product can be abused, then ways to prevent that abuse.” For example, to help address any abuse or harassment captured while on a call, Google Meet has the function to “report abuse.” You can attach a video clip when you report, and they will investigate and then take action on their end. By proactively planning around safety, your organization can deepen trust with users while doing your part to prevent domestic violence.
This past year, Oomph worked with a nonprofit website, which helps the general public understand their legal issues, to perform a user experience discovery and redesign. The site provides individuals with low incomes and limited English with local laws written in plain English. Users visit the site for legal information on various topics, including evictions, government benefits, domestic violence restraining orders and family law. A subsection of the audience uses the website to look for resources dealing with domestic violence.
When designing for this audience, we needed a way to support users who may need to exit a page quickly if they are interrupted by a potential abuser while scrolling through sensitive information, such as divorce or domestic violence resources. The site had previously utilized an “Escape” button on pages that dealt with those sorts of topics. When approaching the redesign, we wanted to ensure this button would always appear but wouldn’t interfere with other audiences, such as someone looking for information about traffic tickets. It had to walk a fine line between in-your-face and too subtle to be helpful to ensure users could see and interact with it.
When dealing with “trauma-informed” design, designers must “prioritize comfort over technological trends” (Design for Safety). Our challenge was amplified by a lack of standards for a quick exit button’s function, especially for a site with multiple audiences. Since these buttons are a relatively new best practice and little research on them exists, we were careful in our strategic approach. A quick exit button is not ingrained in a user’s mental model, making its intended action new to most people. Those who feel they might need it have to recognize its function as soon as possible.
Approach to the Quick Exit Button
While designing the quick exit button, we considered its placement, colors, and typographic style to ensure that:
- The button was easy to understand and used by people who needed it,
- The language was not retraumatizing,
- The button wasn’t so big and distracting that it took away from the overall experience of the site for those who didn’t need it, and
- The button’s position was easily accessible on a range of device sizes and types.
Our first wireframe called the button “Quick Exit.” When we tested the prototype, all five participants did not understand what the exit button meant. This emphasized how important the language on the button is. For those who have dealt with domestic violence, even the word “escape” could be harmful to hear. Additionally, since audiences view the website in different languages, we wanted to ensure that the button’s translation would not adversely affect the layout.
On our next iteration, we tried using the term “Exit” with the icon globally known for “external link.” But this still wasn’t clear enough for our users: Where would the exit bring you? To a page called “Exit”?
We needed to explain exactly what the button did, so we opted to use the universal external link icon with “Exit Site” as a label to best communicate what the button would do. Although it does not describe where you will end up, it clearly explains that you will leave the website.
To further help users understand what the button was for, we then created a pop-up at the start of the user’s journey that educates people on the button’s purpose:
Overall, there was a delicate balance we had to achieve in managing all audiences that typically view the site. We wanted to ensure that we were educating all users but not preventing users from getting help for other topics, such as information about the right to an education or disability. The pop-up, however, had additional considerations we needed to weigh as well: What if their abuser sees it upon landing? What if the user who needs it ignores it?
Additionally, when the user clicks the escape button (or uses the keyboard short-cut “Delete”), they are brought to a new tab that displays ABC News. The 1800victims site is changed to Netflix — with all traces of the CVRC gone. According to Columbia Health, this follows best practice because “a blank history can raise suspicion from your abuser.” This would be the safest approach for users.
Designing for Safety
We must consider how users dealing with domestic violence may feel when they are visiting a site with sensitive content. By including information to educate users upon landing, we can help more people understand how to use a quick exit button if they find themselves in a situation where they need to swiftly leave a website. As an advocate for user safety and domestic violence prevention, you can proactively create a safety net for others by starting to review your work through the lens of how it may be abused prior to releasing it into the world.
This article is just one look at how organizations can design for safety using a quick exit button. By talking about these issues and advocating to protect users in your own design process, we can all take a step toward helping prevent domestic violence. Even if one person is helped or informed by Oomph’s quick exit button design on the website, it will be a success in our eyes.
Need help incorporating safety-focused design into your website or mobile apps? Let’s chat about your needs.
Feel like you’re seeing a lot more website pop-up banners these days asking about your cookie preferences? Those cookie banners are here to stay, and they’re a vital part of compliance for websites of all sizes.
As global standards for consumer privacy and data protection continue to climb, businesses are burning more time and resources to keep up. One VentureBeat article pegged the cost for a business of maintaining data privacy compliance at an eye-popping $31 million — and the costs of non-compliance can be even higher. Failing to stay on top of this complex patchwork of regulations can trigger real consequences, from steep fines and penalties to the indirect costs of reputational harm and lost business.
Cookie consent is one part of a holistic data privacy strategy — and an increasingly important one. Global privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and Brazil’s General Data Protection Law (LGPD), require companies to inform visitors about the data collected on their website via cookies and provide them with granular choices about what they’re willing to share. Cookie consent management solutions help users manage cookie preferences when they enter your site, presenting a banner that informs users about how cookies are used and letting them decide which information (if any) they want cookies to collect.
Cookie consent management solutions are rapidly evolving to keep up with changing data privacy standards. CookiePro is a solution from OneTrust designed specifically for small to medium businesses, offering a more automated way to ensure website and mobile applications stay compliant with cookie consent and global privacy regulations. At Oomph, we’ve helped several clients integrate CookiePro into their sites in recent months and think it’s on track to become an industry standard for cookie consent management.
For organizations that are already juggling multiple site integrations, does it make sense to add another? To answer that, let’s take a look at why cookie consent matters, how a tool like CookiePro can help, and if it’s right for you.
Why Do I Need a Cookie Consent Solution?
To comply with privacy laws and provide a transparent experience that builds trust, many website owners are rethinking how they manage compliance. Adding a cookie consent tool to your website can improve the experience for you and your users.
Not taking data privacy seriously can cost you. In December 2022, Meta (the parent company of Facebook) agreed to pay $725 million to settle several class-action lawsuits that found Facebook had let third-parties access users’ private data and their friends’ data without user permission. Oracle has been sued for collecting 4.5 billion personal records from consumers who have specifically opted out of sharing, and Starbucks is potentially facing a lawsuit for continuing to “track customers ‘after they’ve declined all but required cookies.’”
While big-name companies get most of the bad press around data privacy, you don’t have to be a global enterprise to face similar consequences. In 2022, the total value of settlements for class-action lawsuits set a new record at $63 billion — and data breach and privacy class action settlements were among the top 10 settlement categories. Instead of risking a costly settlement, a much less expensive approach is to invest in a solution to help manage the work of compliance.
Beyond protecting your organization from legal action, demonstrating that you care about compliance helps your business build trust and long-term relationships with users. Data privacy is becoming more important to consumers of all ages, with 74% of people ranking data privacy as one of their top values.
A cookie consent solution lets users know that they’re in charge of their own data. It clearly discloses which information your business collects and uses, putting the power in their hands to control the data they share. If users want to change what they’re comfortable sharing later, they can easily update their settings. That level of transparency helps set the tone for your customer interactions, turning users into loyal brand advocates.
If your website serves users in multiple states or countries, keeping up with the patchwork of state, federal, and international laws is virtually impossible without software. Eleven states have unique data privacy laws in place right now, and 16 states introduced privacy bills during the 2022 to 2023 legislative cycle.
Factor in international regulations like GDPR, and it would take more hours than there are in a day to curate the individual preferences of your customer base. Plus, which of your team members is watching in case any regulations change? The most efficient approach is to use an automated cookie solution to curate consent requirements based on the user’s location and more.
What Is CookiePro?
Developed by OneTrust, which offers more robust data privacy solutions for enterprises, CookiePro started as a product in the OneTrust platform. After recognizing the need among small and medium businesses for a turnkey consent tool, OneTrust spun off CookiePro as a standalone solution.
CookiePro offers plans starting at around $40 per month, making it a budget-friendly alternative to enterprise solutions like OneTrust (or the cost of a lawsuit settlement). CookiePro comes with core compliance features like user-level consent management, acceptance customization, data mapping and recordkeeping, support for over 250 user languages, and additional security features.
After helping several of our clients implement CookiePro, there are a few key features that stand out for us:
- Easy installation: It just takes a few minutes to add a snippet of code to your website to enable CookiePro. It’s compatible with Drupal, WordPress, and other major site platforms.
- Automated cookie blocking: CookiePro’s auto-blocking tool scans your website to identify third-party tracking technologies, categorizes the cookies, and automatically blocks all cookies until users have given consent.
- Robust customizations: You can tailor your CookiePro banner to match your branding by customizing colors, content, and consent language. CookiePro also allows you to customize the user experience by choosing your consent approach and giving users granular control over their cookie settings.
- Upgrade path: Whether you have a small site or one with hundreds of thousands of visitors, CookiePro can support growing business needs. If you find that you need more support or functionality, you can upgrade to OneTrust’s Trust Intelligence Platform to unify all your data privacy management activities.
- Tag management system integrations: You can integrate tag management systems with your cookie consent solution if you use analytics and other platform tags on your website. CookiePro has integrations with many major tag management systems, including Google Tag Manager and Tealium, so you don’t have to change your current setup.
Beyond CookiePro, there are a growing number of other cookie consent solutions on the market, such as Termly and Cookiebot by Usercentrics. The right choice for you will depend on your existing tech stack, budget, and goals — the most important step is to put something in place to protect yourself and your users.
Where Should I Start?
Taking a proactive approach is key to ensuring data privacy for your users and avoiding costly consequences. Educate yourself on the different regulations and requirements, figure out the gaps in your compliance approach, and invest in tools that can help reduce risk and manual effort for your team.
Feeling overwhelmed or need a fresh perspective? Oomph’s accessibility and compliance audit is a great place to start. We can help you go beyond cookie consent to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and other regulatory standards, helping you mitigate risk and deliver on user expectations. Reach out to us to schedule your site audit.
“Inclusive design” may sound like vague, trendy, technical jargon. But inclusive design isn’t a trend — it’s the world catching up on the kind of digital experiences that should have been part of the web from the beginning.
Inclusive design is a crucial part of nearly every digital platform, be it website, app, or intranet.
Inclusive design as a concept and practice is broad and deep — this article barely scratches the surface, but will help you understand the mindset required. We’ll cover what it is, why it matters for your business, and some ways to assess whether your digital platform could be more inclusive.
- What does “inclusive design” mean?
- What are the benefits of inclusive design?
- How are inclusive design and accessibility different?
- How can you make your platform more inclusive?
What does “inclusive design” mean?
The Inclusive Design Research Center defines inclusive design as “design that considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference.” Adding to that, Nielsen Norman calls it creating products that “understand and enable people of all backgrounds and abilities,” including economic situation, geography, race, and more.
Essentially, you’re aspiring to create interfaces that reflect how people from all walks of life interact with the world.
Inclusive design allows people to use a digital platform with ease, whatever their needs or point of view. Looking at characteristics like race, abilities, or geography helps us identify key areas where friction can occur between humans and the web.
In the end, it’s about designing for everyone.
What are the benefits of inclusive design?
Inclusive design isn’t just about recognizing and accommodating diversity; it also creates business advantages for organizations that are willing to invest in an inclusive approach. Here are a few key areas where inclusive design can give your digital platform an edge:
Grow your customer base. By understanding the best way to connect with a wider target audience, your team can create digital experiences that attract the most possible users.
Increase user engagement. Engagement goes up when platforms are welcoming and easy to use. Inclusive web design removes barriers and creates motivation for people to engage with your brand.
Spark innovation. Inclusive solutions have a history of spawning innovation that goes beyond the initial intended audience (think closed-captioning-turned-subtitles on Netflix). Sometimes, when you aim to solve a specific usability issue, you end up creating an entirely new market solution.
Motivate your team. The way a digital platform is designed affects all audiences, even employees. Designing with inclusivity in mind can also have a positive influence on your own team. Engaging employees in your efforts to build an inclusive digital platform can help create a sense of shared purpose — one many people are likely to rally around.
How are inclusive design and accessibility different?
You may have heard these terms used in similar contexts. While they overlap in meaning, they’re not the same thing.
By definition, accessibility focuses on accommodating people with varying physical and mental abilities. Accessible websites are measured by their conformance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which pertain to things like auditory, cognitive, physical, and visual disabilities. Accessibility tests typically cover code-level issues that can be fixed in the source code of a site.
Inclusive design is about accommodating the entire spectrum of human diversity. It involves a variety of viewpoints, including those of people with disabilities. Inclusive solutions can involve anything from back-end coding to the way headlines are worded.
In a nutshell: An accessible site is one of the outcomes of an inclusive design, whereas inclusive design is the overall approach to creating accessibility.
Consider these examples:
- You’re filling out a form, and because you have a visual impairment, you’re using the keyboard to move through it. When you get to the end, you discover the form can’t be submitted because you left a few areas blank — even though you filled out every question asked. Turns out the keyboard had skipped past a few required fields. What a pain!
- While filling out a form, you’re asked to select your ethnicity from a list. As you read the options, you discover that yours is not listed, or that you identify with more than one. You feel like the “other,” compared to everyone else, leaving you frustrated about the task and… maybe even about the company too.
While both issues are addressed by inclusive design, the first issue relates to ability and can be fixed within the code, while the second relates to diversity and will take additional measures to address.
How Can You Make Your Platform More Inclusive?
The ethnicity example raises some interesting questions, such as:
- How do you know which ethnicities to add?
- How many do you need to account for?
- Should you just change the way the question is worded?
- Do you need to ask the question at all?
Mainly, this raises a bigger question: how do you maintain an inclusive site when there are so many important and broad variables (ability, language, culture, gender, age, etc.) — especially when that list of variables continues to grow and change?
The best way to get started is to arm yourself with knowledge and create a plan.
1. Identify the problems to solve.
Start by identifying opportunities for improvement in your current user experience (UX) by collecting quantitative and qualitative research with tools like UX audits, user interviews, user recordings, and heatmaps. Keep an eye out for areas where users seem confused, backpedal, or struggle to complete tasks. The more information you gather, the better!
2. Determine the best solutions.
Your user research will likely uncover many possible paths to change. This may include adding more categories to a list, creating an “Other” field users can type any answer into, or adding options to gather additional information.
Note: It’s common for areas that need improvement to hit on sensitive topics, things you may not fully figure out through data and research. Remember that the goal is understanding. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for their thoughts and opinions.
3. Measure the results.
Some measures of success are easy to determine from user data in Google Analytics or changes in heatmaps and user recordings. Further data can come from users via surveys asking how your audience feels about the changes. The key is to stay continuously informed and aware of what your users are experiencing.
Note: One helpful tool for checking whether your design is, in fact, inclusive is Cards for Humanity. It offers a fun way to make sure you’re not missing anyone or anything in the spectrum of inclusivity.
Remember that the process of creating an inclusive design doesn’t end with implementation. Inclusive design is a work in progress. As a field, inclusive design is always evolving and requires continuous research to develop best practices.
We can’t predict what kind of mismatched interactions users will face in the years to come. But, with an open mind and a desire to learn and grow, we can continually adapt to meet them.
We’ve only scratched the surface of inclusive design! If you have any questions about inclusive design, we’d love to chat. Contact us anytime.