Recently, the Justice SriKrishna Committee came out with its draft White Paper on Data Protection framework for India. One of the key issues mentioned in the report was regarding Consent Fatigue. While the Whitepaper delves into the Consent issue at a policy level, we can see it at a micro level & around us in our everyday lives. Let us explore the issue through the eyes of an ordinary user, Ramesh.
He wonders at the barrage of decision making he faces, which only grows over time. Is he alone in giving up, in throwing his hands up in despair? Is he at fault, OR couldn’t it have been simpler? Ramesh isn’t alone in this quandary. We all are ‘users’ in this digital age, and our interface is broken. We get exasperated, some to a smaller extent, while others simply give up!
|image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/design-desk-display-eyewear-313690/|
Do they design the software intentionally to be tough? No. Were the App/ software developers inept? Probably not.Didn’t they think of the users? Maybe not.
For regular users like Ramesh, the transition to a digital world has not been seamless one. Mistakes may have been made by the Service/ Software developers, and as a result, we all face the challenges while paying our bills, installing an app or even hopping onto a Metro.
The average user just wants an interface, something he or she can understand & one that talks to him better! Could all of this confusion and exasperation be avoided?
The Answer is yes, to a great extent, right while developing the interface of the product/ service. By user-testing & removing bulk of the flaws early in the development cycle, the Product/ Service can be then be refined and bettered continuously. In fact we have been seeing it over the years. Every following hardware or software iteration has been improved upon, and one, the user readily accepted (even if it did not address the problem completely, but was not as annoying as the previous one).
Dialog Box Fatigue
Want to install a Software? UAC.
Or gems like this:
“Are you really sure you want to quit.” after the “Are you sure you want to quit.”
Worse still, in this case Dialog box fatigue led to crafty, devious and enterprising people to float ads which mimicked the OS and led to Malware or software asking elevated privileges/ root access. Another unintended nightmare to deal with. The temporary solution was to retrain users to do it the right way. Ugh. Things have NOT changed drastically though, the same ill plagues many a software. You cannot fault a user for their inability to understand all the messages a software throws.
The IT admin asks employees to stay away from clicking random emails because it may lead to a corporate hack. The technically savvy ask others not to install that shiny new Wallpaper app they’ve just seen – because you never know. There are a raft of new Password Apps to remember all passwords – but we still have trouble remembering that one password for that app! Most passwords are too simple, a combination of their identity (Name, Place, DoB, their Pet’s name etc) – guessable, or too weak (password, for example; or the most used and least safe password “123456 ” !
App Update Fatigue
A Fatigued user
Houston, We have a Consent Problem
Why should I say yes to this?Which one should I say yes to?Why am I forced to choose? Can I skip it?Why aren’t more choices available?…
Microsoft acted immediately in their next version – Windows 7, removed unnecessary dialog boxes, reduced it to a third. Managed QR code is used in many apps to ease the Consent. The choice is eclectic, there’s no Silver bullet for every situation, BUT, every succeeding effort should be one to reduce errors by users & not make it a chore, while enriching the experience and the interaction joyful.
Where we stand today & the way forward
Awareness of this reality of user fatigue should be on top of the mind for Product/ Service providers to effectively address the same.
‘Copy’ or the way the app communicates to the user via the GUI (Graphical User Interface) or VUI (Voice User Interface) can help users greatly. Simple, Jargon-free, non-cryptic & clear words or instructions will help for starter. Often the user is lost or unable to understand the error message or what is being asked of him, for lack of contextual information or otherwise. Investing time to clean up the UX Copy can help mitigate such issues.
While Copy is just one aspect of it, reducing Cognitive Overload, or Information overload, or improving overall user experience may need multiple levels of fine tuning throughout the lifecycle of the Product or Service.
Optimal User Experience is now the challenge that differentiates the great from the “merely good”. For an average user, he/ she does not see or appreciate the technologies or changes behind the scenes. They only see and experience the product primarily via the interface. User Experience, IS the chief differentiator.
An enriched User Experience can help deliver more engaging, personalised and more meaningful interactions, one that will endear a service for a user to stick to a long time. Every platform/ service has its own set of challenges & its own unique solution. Focussing on the user’s needs closely helps in identifying the gaps, the areas of frustration & reduce potential issues.
Build a strong & passionate UX team, involve the entire team – from Engineering, Sales & Marketing, to Customer Support. After all, great products are a result of great work from a great team!
- Sri Krishna Committee White paper on Data protection in India http://meity.gov.in/writereaddata/files/white_paper_on_data_protection_in_india_171127_final_v2.pdf
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Consent Fatigue by Karunakar Rayker @krayker