In Part 1 of this series, I introduced a design project I contributed to for Fortune.com. Fortune asked several User Experience Designers how they would redesign Facebook’s privacy settings to address recent outcries over privacy concerns on the social networking site. You can view final article here. Part 1 focused on the first few phases of the process I went through to define a strategic direction for the redesign.
I identified the two primary privacy problems facing Facebook today as the unwanted public disclosure of information and the difficult management of social networks. The strategy proposed to address these issues focused around three key themes:
This post focuses on the process I went through to progress from many rough ideas to a single refined solution.
One of my favorite tools as a UX Designer is the Sharpie. Sketching allows for the free exploration of ideas without committing too early to any one direction. Following research and defining a strategy, I had a general sense of how to approach the problem, but I needed to quickly iterate through ideas in order to determine which specific direction made the most sense to pursue in detail.
Below are some of the initial sketches I created to iterate through several design directions:
Some of my early ideas included:
Sketching allowed me to quickly iterate on some of these concepts while still keeping my mind open to new ideas. Through the process of sketching, new ideas arose that ultimately led to the most promising ideas to pursue further.
After creating a few dozen sketches, I looked through them to narrow down which ideas seemed to be the most promising and most closely mapped back to the strategy I had defined. I decided to focus on two primary capabilities based on their uniqueness, overall benefit, and flexibility to both the end user and to Facebook as a company. Wireframing these ideas allowed me to explore their interfaces in more detail, focusing on functionality and information hierarchy.
The two ideas I pursued in depth were a privacy toolbar and a more effective friend management system.
Wireframes allow for more detailed exploration of concepts and to organize the overall structure of information. However, in order to really get a sense of what the experience would be like for the end user, a visual design needs to be applied.
My primary goals in applying a visual design were to maintain the design and interaction patterns that are standard on Facebook today, and to further simplify, refine, and clarify the ideas presented in wireframe form.
By adding a visual design, the design and user experience evolved to include:
Since my professional focus is not visual design, I sought to optimize the visual design part of the process by utilizing the Facebook Graphic User Interface (FBGUI) resource kit from SurgeWorks.com that provided design templates using the Facebook look and feel. I used these templates to create all of the screenshots that follow:
(These screenshots are only presented as mockups to expand on design concepts. They are not meant to be interpreted as official Facebook designs)
As I mentioned in Part 1, these ideas should be tested with end users in order to validate design solution meets user needs in an effective and usable way. Testing is even more critical for an organization such as Facebook that has millions of users who are very aware of changes to a system that many use daily.
This solution is far from complete, and its elements may or may not be appropriate ways of solving the problems facing Facebook today. However, my primary goal in presenting this solution was not to present a perfect design, but rather to demonstrate the things that need to be considered when designing such a complex solution.
One of the primary challenges that presented itself in this redesign is that every touch point within the social network presents a decision point that involves privacy. Coming up with a simple, non intrusive, yet intricate solution requires an understanding of these touchpoints and where opportunities exist to reduce the amount of work end users must put forth to effectively manage their privacy. Another challenge is that Facebook, as a business, wants users to expose as much of their information as possible. The design solution needs to take this into account by presenting the benefits of open settings, without overriding a user’s decision to apply a certain level of protection to their information.
Privacy needs to be considered a system of interconnected elements, rather than settings that may or may not be used effectively. Privacy management needs to be considered in context of user actions. Facebook as a whole needs to take into consideration the strong user emotions that ultimately influence usage of the site. It also must recognize that people’s expectations of online social networks is partially influenced by offline social interactions. Privacy management cannot just be an added feature, but rather a fundamental layer that drives interactions on the social network.