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Usability Audits now available for Digital Security Tools

| By: Lindsay Beck

Open source digital security tools focusing on empowering users to safeguard their communications and access to the internet can now apply to receive a free usability audit from the Open Technology Fund’s Usability Lab.

What is a Usability Audit? A Usability Audit will analyze and identify any pitfalls that might make it difficult for an average user to successfully use your tool. These areas can include:

  • interactions between the user and the tool which are confusing or frustrating,
  • the “look and feel” of the tool,
  • misunderstandings between actual security features of the tool and perceived security features by the user, and
  • missed opportunities for users and developers to exchange information.

Who will conduct the Audit? All audits will be done by our partner Simply Secure, an organization that has expertise in usability research, design, software development and product management. Their board is full of pioneers in software development and usability research, including Angela Sasse, Ben Laurie, Cory Doctorow, Ian Goldberg, and many more!

Do I need to have a specific number of users to apply? What is the ideal tool you are looking for? Tools that would be considered are those who aim to safeguard the communications of its users, by enabling access to an open internet through circumvention technologies, maintaining privacy by adding encryption to email, chat or other communication channels, or otherwise making digital security best practices more available to users who need them most. Idealy, tools user have an active user base that includes activists, journalists, and/or citizens in repressive environments that are under surveillance or censorship.

Is there a deadline? No, you can apply at any time.

What is needed? How much time do I need to invest in this? Tools must assign a point person that can serve as liaison between their tool and the Usability Lab service providers. Upon submission of your application, we will work with you to determine the number of hours needed to accomplish the usability audit, and can provide clear guidelines to ensure it is done in the most efficient way possible.

I’m a usability expert. Can I help? Yes, if you are an organization and/or individual that would like to be a usability auditor for the OTF Usability Lab, we encourage you to reach to Lindsay Beck at [email protected]

Why did OTF create the Usability Lab There are many FLOSS circumvention and digital security tools that help people around the world to communicate privately and securely. Unfortunately, few of these software­ development teams have the capacity or expertise in-house to make tools that are truly usable. These usability challenges hamper tool adoption, or may cause misunderstandings for users about tool functionalities, and subsequently may give users a false sense of security. Seeing these challenges, OTF created the Usability Lab to provide tools with needed support and resources.

To apply, please visit our Usability Lab!

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out to Lindsay Beck at [email protected]

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