Q&A with ZixCorp’s Design Team — Balancing Security with the User Experience


Thought Leadership

Q&A with ZixCorp’s Design Team — Balancing Security with the User Experience

Zix Staff

User experience (or lack of) is often one of the biggest barriers companies face when it comes to employee buy-in and compliance of security solutions. We sat down with ZixCorp’s user design team for a peek into how they design products that aren't just at the top of the security game — but also easy to learn and use.

Enjoy the Q&A below, and feel free to let us know your thoughts on what it takes to create a security solution that users love!

  • What goes into designing Zix solutions?

When designing products or features, we are extremely user-focused and want to make sure we are taking their feedback into consideration. We analyze any information our product management team collects from customers and through usability studies to determine what users want We then work as a team through an iterative process to come up with the best feature design. This process really allows us to focus in on what our users want and provide them with the best product available.

  • How have you seen Zix solutions evolve over the years?

In the last five years we have worked to align all the Zix products with one another since they originally looked and operated differently. Now, a number of our products are consistent across several facets — in their look and feel, in how you access them and in the heuristics. This gives users the assurance that their experience with one Zix product will assist them when using other Zix products.

  • Do you design products differently depending on the intended users?

Absolutely! Our ZixOne administrator tool was designed specifically for the administrators that would be using it. We always have the same goal: to make the product easy-to-use by making sure buttons and tools are where the user expects them to be. Sometimes when form factors are different, the placement of controls is not consistent within the same ecosystem, like with the ZixOne phone application to the ZixOne tablet application. The experience is familiar to the user, but slightly different.

  • How does design and user experience play a role in employee adoption of a product?

We believe that if you put a product in front of users and they have to travel a large learning curve, they will reject it. If users don’t understand the product or have to ask a lot of questions about how to navigate, they tend to give up. Our goal is to avoid a situation where users give up and do not use the product.

Along those lines, our design philosophy is to provide people with interactions they are already familiar with. Apple, Android and Windows have spent a long time training people on how to use their products. It was said early on when the iPod came out that the iPod Touch was simply a training tool to teach users how to interact with an iPhone. We want to use what’s already in users’ knowledge bank to provide them with the tools they need to get the job done.

  • Are there any specific challenges to designing a security product?

Definitely. Our QA team is embedded with us and involved in the design process, from the very beginning, up until the product goes out the door. They help us catch everything, from design issues to security issues. We also have a security testing period that happens after we have designed the product to ensure that everything is secure and up to Zix standards. The testing period can change user design as well, and occasionally, we have to make compromises in order to meet security requirements.

  • Do you look to any products for design inspiration?

We are a standards-based design organization, so we look at the standards produced by Apple, Microsoft and Google and try to stick to them as closely as possible. This helps us to stay in that groove of providing something that users already understand.

  • What mistakes do others make when it comes to user experience?

One mistake is designing products that deviate from standards users understand. Designing things that are interesting or exciting can come back to haunt designers, because they could be creating a steep learning curve for adoption. It’s not that the old dog can’t learn new tricks, it’s that the old dog doesn't want to learn new tricks. And you will find that most of your users are the same way. Yes, a product may be neat, fun and cool-looking, but they don’t want to learn something new — they just want a simple product that is easy to use.