Red Team Lab

User Experience & Discovery Lab

 

This Lab improves the user-experience design of internet freedom tools. We help projects better understand the needs of their user communities, and support them to make their tools usable and accessible to all.

What we do

We provide free user-experience research and design support to internet freedom projects.

Would your internet freedom project benefit from user experience research and design support, free-of-charge?

Our Lab partners offer the following services:

User Discovery Services:

These services assist internet freedom projects to engage in user experience (UX) research in order to deepen their understanding of the needs of their user communities, and to help  inform the usable and context-appropriate design of the technologies they are building.

Our partners can also help technical teams establish sustained feedback loops with their users, and to incorporate user feedback into the design of free and open source internet freedom technologies.

Services include (but are not limited to):

  • Secure user research
    • Interviews
    • Focus groups
    • Journey mapping
    • Systems mapping
    • Audience & early adopter mappings
  • Exploratory research
  • User testing and feedback sessions
  • Supporting the design of sustainable user feedback flows

Usability and Design Services

Lab partners are available to provide internet freedom technology projects with design and usability support, encompassing prototyping, wireframing, visual identity development, UX feedback sessions, as well as longer-term usability coaching services throughout a project’s design phase.

Services include (but are not limited to):

  • User experience (UX), developer experience (DX), and user interface (UI) ideation 
    • UX, DX, UI prototyping and wireframing:
      • Low fidelity prototypes (ideation and sketching)
      • Mid-fidelity prototypes (wireframes)
      • High fidelity prototypes (mock-ups)
  • UX visual identity support
    • Typography design
    • Interface design
    • Responsive Design
  • UX feedback sessions, coaching and support services
  • Offline-first UX/UI design and development
  • Privacy-first design support

Accessibility Design Services

Accessibility services are focused on offering accessibility design support to technology projects during the design phase, to ensure that people with disabilities are able to access and use all privacy- and security-enhancing tools and circumvention technologies without impediment.

Services include (but are not limited to):

  • UX accessibility feedback sessions
  • Accessible UX/UI design support
  • Accessible UX/UI development support
  • Accessibility coaching and support services
  • Digital (web and mobile) accessibility trainings
  • Neurodiversity-inclusive accessibility support

Post-Release Usability and Accessibility Services

These services offer usability and accessibility auditing, quality assurance, and user testing efforts, and are designed to ensure that internet freedom projects can continue to identify opportunities to improve tools’ usability and accessibility even after they have been released.

Services include (but are not limited to):

  • Usability audits and heuristic reviews
  • Accessibility audits
  • Quality assurance & user testing

Improving the user-experience design of internet freedom tools

How to Apply

If you’re interested in applying for User Experience & Discovery (UXD) Lab support, you can apply directly at this link. We’ll ask you a few questions about your project, and what kind of support you’re looking for from the Lab.

Before applying, make sure to take a look through the Lab partner profiles below, and check out their websites and portfolios to figure out who might be the best fit for your project – we’ll try and match you with either your first or second choice of partner when you apply.

You don’t need to be an OTF-supported project to take advantage of the Lab’s services – as long as you can demonstrate that your technology project is aligned with OTF’s mission to advance internet freedom, then it will be eligible for support. For a more detailed overview of OTF’s mission and our funding remit, please check out the OTF Applicant Guidebook.

Process

  • If you’re interested in receiving UXD Lab support, apply at this link. We’ll ask you to introduce your project, explain how it aligns with OTF’s mission, and to indicate the kind of UX support you’re looking for. We’ll also ask you to select your two preferred Lab partners to collaborate with.
  • Once we’ve received your application, OTF staff will review it within five working days. If the request is reasonable and aligned with the Lab’s mission, OTF will approve your request and connect you with either your first or second preference Lab partner.
  • You’ll then work with the partner to develop a scope of work for the engagement. Once that has been approved by OTF, the Lab partner will guide you through the engagement process.
  • All costs associated with Lab engagements will be taken on by OTF, and there will be no cost to your project beyond the time you invest!

Am I eligible for support?

If you’re a current or recent OTF project, or your project falls within our funding remit, then we’d love to hear from you. OTF supports technology-focused projects that advance internet freedom, and counteract repressive online censorship and state surveillance. Such projects include circumvention and anti-censorship tools, privacy-enhancing technologies, and internet shutdown resilience tools, among others.

Apply now

Our Partners

Accessibility Lab

We are a digital accessibility agency based in Mexico, offering global support for internet freedom projects. Our expertise includes inclusive design and development, comprehensive accessibility audits, and specialized training. Deeply committed to supporting compliance with international standards, we enhance tools, websites, and mobile apps to improve accessibility. Our mission is to empower all communities through accessible technology.

Accessibility Lab can provide services in English and Spanish.

Convocation Research & Design

We are a security and research design agency focused on offering human rights centered design support for privacy focused, human rights and internet freedom projects on a global scale. 

We have over a decade of experience in offering user research, design research, innovation, strategy, prototyping and accessibility guidance, with a particular focus on human rights defenders, journalists, activists, open source and community based projects, along with expertise in protecting marginalized groups experiencing different technology facilitated violence online including malware attacks and those facing online gender based violence.

Convocation Research & Design can provide services in English.

Decent Design

Decent Design is a multidisciplinary design research lab based in Southeast Asia. They work closely with individuals and teams from the open source, internet freedom, and decentralized and distributed web ecosystems. Through a decolonial and intersectional approach, they co-design and build respectful technologies with and for historically marginalized communities.

Decent Design can provide services in English and Vietnamese.

Draftlab

Creative project design for social good champions through appropriate technology that strengthens human systems.

We are experts in discovery, user research, and UX/DX, and have more than a decade of experience working with activists and human rights defenders across the globe. We can help you refine good ideas into well-defined tools, improve existing tech through human-first research and design, and create sustainability pathways for you and your community.

Draftlab can provide services in English and Dutch.

Kumquat

Kumquat is a women-led design consultancy in Cape Town. We specialize in human-centered design, UX/UI, and accessibility strategy for purpose-driven organizations.

We design for a broad spectrum of user groups across Africa and the global south. Our portfolio includes collaborations with journalists in sensitive regions like Nigeria, Egypt, and Uganda; developing programs on economic empowerment and sexual health for conservative communities; and building mobile/web designs, considering factors like Android dominance, data constraints, offline-first functionality, regulatory variations, and localized content.

Kumquat can provide services in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Afrikaans.

Okthanks

We are product designers, researchers and advocates shaping technology for a freer, safer world. We take a risk-informed approach, balancing the needs a change-maker has with the risk they are willing to take. We specialize in cross-cultural user research and in making complex privacy-centric tech both accessible and delightful. We have experience with circumvention tech, physical safety and harm reduction and blended online/offline experiences.

Okthanks can provide services in English and Portuguese.

Plaintext Design

Plaintext Design is a collective based in Europe with a focus on usability and communications. We bring years of experience working with global Internet Freedom projects, ranging from censorship circumvention and shutdown resilience to protocol design. Highly collaborative and always values-driven, we offer both short-term interventions and long-term support.

Plaintext Design can provide services in English, German, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Swahili, and French.

Superbloom

Superbloom (previously known as Simply Secure)’s mission is to leverage design as a transformative practice to shift power in the tech ecosystem. We build interventions in tech strategy, design, and development processes, challenging harmful paradigms and the concentration of power, and creating a more just world. We are a global team bringing intersectional thinking, diverse skills, and above all passion to problem-solving and design.

Superbloom Design can provide services in English.

Technique

With advanced skills as a manager and user experience designer, Robert Stribley is the founder of Technique. He works with organizations across diverse sectors to design thoughtful UX solutions. Previously, he worked with Publicis Sapient and with Razorfish most recently as an Experience Director.

He offers skills as a UX researcher and designer, but also has expertise in UX feedback and heuristic analysis, usability testing, leading design workshops, and also with UX writing. He also advocates for privacy by design.

Technique can provide services in English.

The Engine Room

The Engine Room is an international organization with a mission to strengthen the fight for social justice by supporting civil society to use technology and data strategically, effectively and responsibly. 

Our offerings encompass exploratory research to uncover the tech needs of communities in repressive environments, audience/early adopter mapping to identify potential users, secure user research to ensure the safety of digital resources, and user testing and feedback sessions to refine tool development and design sustainable feedback mechanisms.

The Engine Room can provide services in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic.

Ura Design

Ura Design provides user experience, accessibility and visual design services to internet freedom and open source communities since 2016. Our team is based in Albania, Germany, France and Spain. Over the past 7 years we have supported over 100 open source and privacy-preserving technology tools, including Mozilla Firefox, Tor Project, Ubuntu Linux, Thunderbird, SecureDrop, Briar as well as various internet censorship and security research projects at the University of Michigan, Georgia Tech and University of Darmstadt.

Ura Design can provide services in English, Albanian, and German.