Designing an Identity System
A journey to build trust and help people transact online securely. It's been more than a year since I joined the Identity team with a goal to create a platform for managing all your online identity at one place in a private secure and trustworthy way. We desired to create identity management tools give you the power to share and protect your data exactly the way you want. Controlling your personal information online doesn’t have to be hard. One of imporatant aspect for me has been to not to just define but redefine the problem as time passes and landscape changes.
This is just half part of the story the second half which involves our API and a business platform to help our partners be able to integrate and provide a complete identity verification mechanism and also give users all the control as well as security.
My role is to rally the team around user-centric design. I work across user testing, high-level UX design, UI design, and interactive & motion prototyping. Developed wireframes to support key pages and flows, communicating ideas in a credible manner, leveraging competitive research, conferences, and latest trends. Also, I was responsible for translating the product vision and the experience through diagrams and wireframes.
The Problem & Goals
Okay here is the scenario lets say Fiona is a 28-year-old Finance Associate and she uses Uber to ride to work, prefers to stay in Airbnb when she travels and also orders a lot of stuff via amazon. She has to prove that her identity separately in all these places and more but she doesn’t trust. She wants a portable and reusable digital identity platform which she can trust and securely authorize other services to use. Our findings indicated that people really wish for some sort of a digital passport verified as per government standards which they can use universally but also be able to manage and control their information. People often pointed out how difficult it is to verify themselves in each new services or website especially if it needs you to pull out a real state iD/passport or even providing SSN is not trustworthy.
Our findings indicated that people really wished for some sort of a digital passport verified as per government standards which they can use universally but also be able to manage and control their information.
A large part of my role is to also do user testing and analyze user feedback, analytics, and data to help the team identify opportunities for improvement in the experience of the product. Created interactive prototypes to simulate proposed functionality to aid in the design and development process. The challenge has always been to simulate the experience in the correct and cheap way to take the most out of the user research exercises.
The Process & Workflow
The initial research to look at how identity verification experience is designed currently in 3 spheres the Government, Financial institutions and Sharing Economy/Private Sector. We realized there were two sides to this problem, one where the end users felt the pain and wanted a better portable experience with their identity and second where a B2B partnership was needed with the private sector and govt. to educate and also help them integrate the solution. I talked to users and leadership to figure out what a product should be.
We relied a lot on initial internal feedback to quickly adapt and iterate on interface design concepts.
I usually break up product design life cycle into four stages. The first being Definition, I think honestly a lot of time companies or project, especially in larger companies, don’t spend enough time in the Definition Step. They think they define it and quickly move on to the problem-solving ideation stage. But I think the key is to know first is to identify the correct problem worth solving, how we know it’s successful and what the metrics are for success.
With this in mind, we then started exploring what the iD Card experience could look like. For this, I went on to see what examples could help us design a more usable iD Card and created different iterations of it. Won over the difficult stakeholders by designing detailed wireframes for every screen and states.
I think the key is to know first identify the correct problem worth solving, how we know it’s successful and what the metrics are for success.
Early wireframing and prototyping allowed us to quickly eliminate the concepts that didn’t feel good enough, and to validate/test the ones that had more potential. I know it is important when to sweat the details and when to get a rough version out for prototyping.
Experimentation is the new normal. We continually create simple things and launch them to figure out where the next big breakthrough will happen. The end result of this experimentation is that you compete with yourself.
My goal is to focus on utility first and later on usability, as a product won't be successful even if we provide a great usable product.
We focused on key features to make the experience more accessible and also simple. The first step was to bring some of the hidden settings to the forefront such as card visibility settings to everyone, just your connections or no one.
At this same time, I started learning Framer and wanted to apply it to design an interactive prototype for the iD Card. This was something that would delight the user and also make it look more like an identity card. I utilized prototypes a lot to simulate proposed functionality to aid in the design and development process. A part of the process was to also have the whole product flow clickthrough via Invision so that other team members can easily be aligned and collaborate via feedbacks.
We also devised a way where we wanted to create a consistent visual design for the whole product and created a design styleguide to help all the team members be aligned.
Working towards the North Star
As we moved towards creating a portable, reusable and trustworthy digital passport, it was important to also make sure we paint clear and simple use cases. I started on creating use case card for our landing page to give users context and helping in scenarios to help users understand why/where they need to do identity verification and management online.
This led to creating the landing page with the right message for our end users. My approach was to explain what is Identity.com, how does it work, what am I getting and why is it useful all on the landing page. Creating the landing page process was fun.
Research & Internal Testing
We designed our minimum viable product and wanted to know how people would perceive ID Card and if they would know when or why do they need to verify their identity. We quickly identified that data ownership was a big concern which also tied in with security. What the interface had to provide was to make them feel secure and in control. We created a “Verification” section which was more like a data vault, helping with more transparency around all their data all in one place.
As we were focusing on our product, we got a chance to collaborate with New Zealand Govt. on a country wide concept on digital identities. New Zealand is one of the first countries to address the challenge of digital identity, starting with the launch of its government login service in 2007 determine future needs regarding technology, user experience, agency integration, and privacy. The collaboration aim is to result in a clear and realistic vision for the next generation of digital identity services in New Zealand. Our commitment was to help brainstorm creating a secure, privacy-friendly digital ecosystem, building trust online through advanced identity solutions and privacy-centric practices. Easy to use services and APIs that help people manage and protect their own identities, verify contacts, and build trusted teams at work. This collaboration helped us to learn a lot about how identity verification is important on a country scale, what could be the use cases and what challenges are they facing to introduce it to the citizen
Lessons Learned & to the Future...
I would again like to mention that the challenge for me has always been not to just define but redefine the problem as time passes and landscape changes every six months. Here are some of my thoughts around what I learned from my experience building this product.
Define success at the start, mention your insights throughout and show how successful you were.
Testing and validating assumptions early and repeatedly.
We gathered as a team every other month, reflecting on our original goal of the design team and also engg. side helped us to be aligned and transparent.
Being wrong is absolutely fine as long as you reflect on what went wrong and if given the chance what would you do to make it right.
Ran surveys to quickly have real users able to express their understanding.
The future relies on social online interactions based on trust and security.