Security: Your Secret Weapon for UX Innovation
A security-first approach to UX forges the path to safer, better-performing applications and becomes more potent when combined with full-stack observability.
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The last two years have seen consumer expectations for high-performing digital experiences skyrocket. More than three-quarters (76%) of people say their expectations of digital services have increased since 2020.
The necessity for brands to innovate and keep pace with their competition - when it comes to providing incredible user experiences - has never been greater. The start of a new year brings a great opportunity for brands to re-evaluate how leadership teams engage with and incorporate fresh strategies into their user experiences in order to meet these expectations.
When considering user experience (UX) strategies for 2022, brands would be wise to consider their approach to security. More closely interwoven with UX than one might expect, security teams are key for protecting user privacy and ensuring data is secure. But even more so, they can be an organization’s “secret weapon” when it comes to UX and even more potent when combined with full-stack observability with business context.
To fully make the most of security teams as UX innovators, incorporate these considerations into planning for 2022 and beyond.
Security Breaches Are Already Part of the User Experience
Last year, there was a major security breach virtually every month, and no industry was immune. The threat of security breaches is a reality for every organization that is connected to the Internet. The question of whether security will affect user experience is not a matter of if a breach is going to happen, but when and how an organization will be prepared to handle the situation and its aftermath.
The effects of security breaches on consumers can range from the backend (such as potential downtime needed for IT and security teams to remediate the issue) to the end-user (such as the frustration of not being able to access the digital service they need and worrying about their data or identity potentially being compromised). But whatever form a breach takes, it’s clear that consumers have high expectations of how a brand should behave and the steps they should take to keep customer information and data secure. According to an AppDynamics report ‘The App Attention Index 2021’, 90% of people say that their expectations of brands to keep data and information security have increased over the last two years.
However, while expectations for better security are soaring, there is a similar danger of security negatively impacting the user experience. Robust security is vital, but it’s equally important for applications to run smoothly and seamlessly too. A safe and trustworthy environment can’t come at the expense of making security requirements so strict and cumbersome that they drive users away.
And the stakes have never been higher: as per the Appdynamics report, "57% of people say brands have one shot to impress them and that if their digital service does not perform, they won’t use them again. By having many choices for digital services, we’ve reached a point where more than half of all consumers aren’t willing to give second chances to brands that don’t deliver a top-quality digital experience. Applications that do not deliver are deleted as quickly as they are installed. Brands have a single opportunity to impress. Fail – or even miss the mark by the smallest of margins – and previously loyal customers will walk away forever."
There has to be a balance, and that’s where security teams can provide the most powerful UX value.
Embrace Security in the Software Development Lifecycle
Many developers and team leaders already understand there's an opportunity to improve application security by making it a fundamental part of the development cycle, versus an afterthought. I previously outlined the steps to aligning security and user experience for DZone, and more than a year later, I would say the mandate for alignment has never been stronger.
UX and security simply can’t work in silos, they must band together to take a holistic view of the entire IT stack in order to address heightened application performance demand and security risks. In addition to setting up the “perimeter” for security proactively, it’s also imperative that security teams be given the space to come up with new, creative solutions.
Consider the perspective of the end user. If the way an application’s security protocols are presented is simple and easy to understand and also maintains a high level of protection, the overall experience and consumers’ ultimate perception of the brand will likely be more positive moving forward. It’s a tough balancing act, but if security teams are brought in earlier in development, the rest of the process typically advances more smoothly and is less compartmentalized.
To stay competitive amid the digital transformation boom over the last two years, businesses need to keep innovating. Often, security teams are seen as barriers, when really their proximity to the latest innovations and quick pivots needed to adapt to changing threat landscapes lead to the most creative solutions. Connect security with UX, and the business benefits from the resulting abundance of talent.
Support Collaboration With the Right Technology and Tools
It’s clear security and UX must converge to bring out the best in both teams while keeping the end-user top-of-mind, but implementing the right tools and technology to support those efforts is crucial for success. Solutions, like full-stack observability, allow for greater visibility across the entire IT stack, and with business context, this technology provides the appropriate information technologists need to be able to pinpoint where potential IT performance issues may arise and how they are impacting the business.
To achieve the best results, all team members need to operate from the same base level, drawing from the same observability view where each application is built from beginning to end. Using a full-stack observability platform, an organization can have an in-depth view into the behavior, performance, and health not just of their application but of all the supporting infrastructure. The shared context speeds up response times, reduces downtime, and analyzes performance and security data in real-time to address exploits and potential risks before the end-user ever even notices something is wrong. With business context, teams can also understand where they need to prioritize resolving issues that have the greatest impact on the bottom line.
Approaching UX with a security-first mentality and employing a strategy centered on full-stack observability with business context can liberate an organization to innovate more freely, providing more reliable applications and resulting in happier customers -- and that kind of trust is truly priceless.
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