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In this week’s Design Podcast episode, I sit down with Ame Elliott, design director at Simply Secure. She addresses the relationship between — and challenges of — privacy and security, noting “there’s plenty of tough to go around.”
Elliott also talks about how her experience of attending architecture school informs her design work, and looks at the responsibility of designers to create for a greater good.
Here are a few highlights from our chat:
I think architecture can be a wonderful form of a design-inspired liberal arts education. If you look at places like Italy, I think there are certainly ways that you can go to architecture school and not be set up to practice architecture. The studio experience of actually being together in this communal space, working on a drafting table, making things visual — it’s so foundational to a lot of the things that are called ‘design thinking’ today.
Privacy or confidentiality is one technical goal of security. There are other technical goals of security: integrity, non-reputability, and other kinds of things. Coming at this from a human-centered design perspective … I care about what end users experience, and privacy feels like the quality people are looking for in an interaction.
One of the things that really influenced me in my journey toward working on security and privacy was Mike Monteiro’s talk at Webstock in 2013 called “How designers are destroying the world.” It’s a provocative title, but it was eye-opening for me to see how he used an example of ways in which the users of Facebook can make decisions that have drastic, real-world consequences to people’s lives. That was eye-opening to me to think, ‘Hey, these aren’t just pixels on a screen — there are people behind these systems.’ And where designers are making questionable choices, there can be drastic consequences.
I think designers do have a responsibility. Use experience is critical. I think design leadership is the piece for unlocking that so designers feel they have a voice and an agency in changing the shape of a product and getting the right values out in the world.
Ame Elliot was a recent speaker at O’Reilly’s Solid Conference and O’Reilly’s Online Conference, Experience Design for the Internet of Things — check out the full video compilation from the Online Conference here.