Security and user experience: how to hit that digital sweet spot

May 6, 2021

What does your business prioritize: security or user experience? It’s a question many companies grapple with. And rightly so. Getting the balance right has historically been a challenge.

The good news is that identity verification is one of the few interactions you have with your customers where the two go hand in hand. From sign up, through to future touchpoints in a customer’s journey, everything centers around that digital identity. 

Historically user experience and security compete in a tug of war

On the one hand, you want to keep your customers and your business safe. One of the biggest online threats today is identity fraud. The rate of identity fraud increased 41% in 2020 when compared to the previous year. It can have a huge impact on businesses - from financial losses to reputational damage. You need good security measures in place to protect from these effects.

But on the other hand, you want to make life easy for your customers. In today’s competitive digital market, a user-friendly experience is a must. Up to 43% of customers can abandon a sign-up process if their expectations aren’t met. Face to face is a thing of the past - we can no longer rely on humans to create a first impression. Instead, login screens via a desktop or mobile interface are often the first interaction customers have with your brand. So it needs to make the right impression.

In the past, businesses were often forced to prioritize one over the other. But attitudes are changing. Instead of seeing security and user experience as contending priorities, users and businesses alike are increasingly seeing how the two can complement each other, and that there are benefits of them working together.

Customer experience + security = digital trust 

Digital trust is what makes the world go round. And in building that trust, experience and security go hand in hand. Customers want to feel secure. Hitting that digital sweet spot between seamless experience and security is what makes customers feel protected. 

There are plenty of real-world examples. In most instances where personal information is involved, customers expect some form of verification. Whether that’s entering your pin when making a purchase or unlocking your phone with your face. These security steps are there for a reason, but are still slick enough to make the overall experience work.

This verification process is becoming more common in the digital world. But online, it’s not always easy to know that people are who they claim to be. Having security in your customers’ identities goes way beyond a username and password. Organizations need to use identity management to increase security and protect sensitive information. And high-quality customer experience is needed for security solutions, and specifically identity management. 

For security and UX designers, this means re-evaluating customer journeys. User experience designers and security professionals should work together to answer the question: how do we design the security experience to fit the needs of the digital identity? 

After all, behind most identity verifications there is a genuine person trying to live their life. Whether that’s accessing their bank account, checking into a hotel, or renting a car. But at the same time, the process needs to catch any fraudulent activity, without having an adverse impact on genuine users.

Tips for balancing user experience and security

The good news is that online identity verification solutions are designed to do just that. Genuine customers can prove who they are, quickly and securely, wherever they are, with just an ID and their face. While AI-driven technology will flag suspicious or fraudulent users. Find out more in our guide to digital identity verification.

The more businesses start to view user experience and security as considerations to work with each other, the easier it will become to meet customers' expectations. If you’re planning a re-evaluation of how the two work together, here are a few pointers to keep in mind.

  1. Don’t take a one size fits all approach. It might depend on your specific business (for example, regulated industries like financial services generally need higher security levels), where your business is located, or your specific product - but remember that you don’t have to adopt the same approach for every single customer. Even if you’re a regulated industry, you can take a risk-based approach. For example, verifying identities at account creation, then performing additional security checks for large transactions.

  2. Change how your customers feel about security. While you can’t remove the friction of security entirely, you can change how your users feel about it. Make it as simple as possible and explain to your customers why you have those processes in place. They will appreciate knowing why they are being asked to do something more time consuming.

  3. Remember that security exists for a reason. You want users to onboard quickly, and for the process to feel as easy as possible. But make the process too easy and they won’t feel secure. Especially when it comes to high-value services like accessing personal financials.

Find out about your customers perceptions of user experience and security and how it relates to identity in our whitepaper Customer Attitudes to Digital Identity.

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