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Designing Data Transparency for All Lens

If digital services are going to be used by people around the world, then they'll need to be understood by people around the world, too. Data transparency must be designed to reflect an ever-expanding range of needs.

Through Design Jams across the globe, TTC Labs has been working to uncover the challenges that come with balancing brand, user experience, legal requirements, and designing for a worldwide audience.

All these dimensions come into conflict, for example, on your average Terms & Conditions page. So, we ask: how might we focus more on the needs of real people?

Because what good is 'legal thoroughness' without real clarity? Can we make the communication more meaningful?

Data transparency is about so much more than Terms & Conditions.

But they’re a good place to start.

This is typically what they look like.

And this is the buttonthat showsyou agree.And this is the buttonthat showsyou agree.

The language is complicated.

There’s a lot of it.

These documents require college-level comprehension skills, but, in the USA, only 48%* of people can read at this level.

*Source: U.S. Department of Education

We say we want data transparency, yet we design for inaccessibility from the start.

How might we think about this differently?

Could T&Cs be educational?

Could they explain — perhaps even justify — how and why a company is using data?

Graphic elements Graphic elements Graphic elements Graphic elements
Graphic elements Graphic elements Graphic elements Graphic elements

Could visual design and graphic elements make things easier to read?

Could we design with different audiences in mind?

Could we simply write for clarity and comprehension?

*Text credit: Amnesty International

Thoughtful T&C design is one little step towards creating data transparency that truly makes sense to everybody.

Terms & Conditions are one place within the user experience where we should think of transparency as a feature, not a hindrance–but there are many other product moments where the same insights can apply.

Designing for the world means designing across a range of different needs and abilities. It's a huge responsibility to help people overcome barriers to understanding. Barriers that might be physical, economic, cultural, conceptual, or something else altogether.

TTC LENS Designing data transparency for all

Viewpoints Data transparency for all

Here are some ways product designers, privacy experts and policy makers have been exploring the problem, with TTC Labs.

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Insight Visual storytelling can communicate complex concepts

When people are first learning about data, the concepts can feel overwhelming and complex. Illustrations and visual metaphors can really help to bring abstract ideas to life, show connections, and get people to engage at a deeper level.

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Visual Storytelling

"It's not about dumbing down, it's about opening up." The words you’re using might have legal implications, but it doesn't mean they have to be written in a convoluted way.

Sam Royle

Content Strategist, Facebook

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Data transparency as a feature

Foodvisor, a nutrition advisory app startup, worked with TTC Labs to rethink some aspects of their product that related to personal data usage. The improvements they made to their onboarding flow were not only more transparent regarding people's data–they resulted in a higher conversion rate, too.

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Insights Content strategy: the power of words

Your interface might look amazing, sure. But if your content can't be understood and easily digested? You'll never build trust and provide transparency. There's an entire discipline focused on writing for digital experiences.

Learn more about how content strategy can make privacy more accessible.

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Romain Bessuges-Meusy

"Privacy policies are increasingly separated from a person's day-to-day interaction with a system. Links are hidden at the bottom of pages, mobile apps put them in the app store... and the policy for your smart speaker or fitness tracker is likely posted somewhere on the company website."

Romain Bessuges-Meusy

CEO, Axeptio

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VideoExploring data transparency for young people

During a Design Jam in London in 2018, we set out to design innovative interfaces that recognize teens as sophisticated digital users. We explored ways to give them more transparency and granular control over how their data is used.

Tools Design with words

Preparation: 30 mins; Delivery: 15 mins

Check out this TTC Toolkit exercise about the power of language in your privacy notices.

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The starting point for developing people-friendly privacy notices is to make them understandable, actionable and relevant to the user’s activity.

Florian Schaub

Assistant Professor, University of Michigan

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TTC LENS Designing data transparency for all

Prototypes Design solutions in action

These design prototypes demonstrate how Design Jam participants have sought to design data transparency for all.

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Allied World Health

Singapore 21st May 2019

Problem

AWH serves lower-income communites with varying education and digital literacy levels. That means that people may not fully understand or engage with data privacy or their rights when using the service.

Solution

This solution involved creating a step-by-step explanation of the Philippines' Data Privacy act, breaking down the information into bite-size pieces.

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Tale

Singapore 14th Nov 2018

Problem

Consent isn't always a binary choice. In fact, it isn't even always a choice you make with words at all.

Solution

It's possible to communicate consent with physical gestures and movement, allowing answers to become more nuanced. Shrugging your shoulders or raising eyebrows could prompt the app to give the users more information, for example.

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Tale

Washington 26th Sep 2019

Problem

Young people regularly create content to express their rapidly changing identities. As they mature, they may want to change who has access to their older content–but this process is time consuming and, thus, often neglected.

Solution

By offering periodic notifications and incentives, this solution could give people quick and playful ways to modify the visibility of their posts.

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