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When someone says "data" our minds don't automatically jump to "user experience" - but maybe they should. In the fourth installment of the SOLID UX Princples series by Jessica Engstrom, she shares key UX considerations as they pertain to data loss and data sharing.

If you missed my previous posts, you can catch up right here: Part 1: Make Software UnderstandablePart 2: Ergonomics & Beauty and Part 3: Responsiveness & Efficiency. Otherwise, let's dive into the next part below.

In addition to which components, icons and design we choose when we think about UX, we also need to think about the data itself.

Losing Data

The UI is protective when the user doesn’t lose data or work unintentionally. Having to click save to commit your changes is most likely redundant as this is something we had to do back when computers didn’t have much memory and storage didn’t come as cheap as it does today. Always save the users data when possible so you can retrieve it again if something happens.

We also need to take into consideration that our users are human, and humans sometimes makes mistakes. That is why it’s important to make sure that the user can undo a mistake they did.

Saving data automatically also means we should implement versioning. What if the user accidentally deletes everything in the document? They need to be able to get the information back.

Adding auto-save is an important feature, but it also means we should consider implementing versioning.

Oversharing Data

When the user can go about their business in a social context with no social disruption or embarrassment to themselves or others, the UI is discreet. Discreet is always nice.
We wouldn’t want the ATM to read your PIN out loud. Or think of all the games that flood Facebook, or even the autoplay of videos on Instagram when you forgot to turn the sound off. All of this is unwanted disclosure.

So, we need to take a moment to think about what we share, where in the solution we share it and also how much of it. We can access all the data if that is needed, but perhaps it’s better to have all that data in one place instead of right front and center.

This can also be important when it comes to GDPR (The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation), if a co-worker watches over your shoulder and you have customer information on you screen that the other person does not have authorization to look at, you need to report this as an incident.

Having less customer sensitive data on the screen will limit the risk of unauthorized people reading sensitive data.

You might hide sensitive data so it is only visible while you have the mouse cursor over the area or have a button that briefly toggles the visibility. Password saving applications do the same, for instance.

Thinking about how you disclose data in your software and how to properly store it is more important than ever.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, or for more, feel free to check out the webinar we recently hosted on the topic right here.

About the Author

Jessica Engstrom

Being a geek shows in all parts of Jessica's life, whether it be organizing hackathons, running a user group and a podcast with her husband, game nights (retro or VR/MR) with friends, just catching the latest superhero movie or speaking internationally at conferences. She's a Windows Development MVP. Together with her husband she runs a company called "Azm dev" which is focused on HoloLens, Windows development, UX and teaching the same.


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