Design and Data Privacy, where is the overlap?

"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." -Steve Jobs

Alexandra Grisanti

12/19/20221 min read

Companies creating products for end users must structure their legal agreements carefully to accommodate personal data protection laws. When designing a new product, the priorities of the business are typically to focus on the commercial end of it, how is this product going to market? Next, on the technical part of the product, how does it work? Lastly, on the legal structure, how do we reduce our liability? As we have seen with Apple, usability and commercialization go hand in hand. What are the possibilities if a product were to focus on the user experience and the legal structure of personal data protection, to design something new?

This, I argue, is where design meets data privacy. The commercialization of selling a product engages the complicated legal structures of data protection laws to support the user’s goals and motivations. For example, an efficient way for SaaS companies to go to market is through business to business sales. Company A has pain points XYZ in business operation. Software company A tries to solve these pains via software solutions. What is a rapidly evolving, very large pain point for digital businesses today? Data protection and privacy laws! Yet, the digital currency and top prioritization of most businesses today is to gather better data insights.

What is a concern for the average consumer? Data protection and privacy. Both types of business models, either creating consumer based products or B2B products, have unmet desires to get a grasp, handle, manage and simplify the issues surrounding data collection, movement, liabilities and protection.

The design process is not a linear but a wondering, exploratory practice. As designers, we research problems and creatively pitch ideas. We test those ideas. We collaborate with engineers, marketers and lawyers to approach solutions from a well-rounded perspective, meanwhile always advocating for the user (and the commercialization). The role of a designer is to focus on the appearance, functionality, and feasibility of a product. Designers are perfectly suited for creating solutions to the challenges of the new data economy.