Relating User Interfaces & Security in Software

We’ve been talking quite a bit these days in the office about user interfaces and interaction design. I came across an interesting post on the Architectures of Control | Design with Intent blog by Dan Lockton, a PhD researcher at Brunel University’s School of Engineering & Design.

In his post Interesting Parallels, Dan draws on unique definitions of interaction design and security (namely, that both are related to shaping human behavior) to tie the two together. He quotes a computer security specialist and interaction design expert to draw the parallel:

“Security is about preventing adverse consequences from the intentional and unwarranted actions of others. What this definition basically means is that we want people to behave in a certain way; and security is a way of ensuring that they do so.”

Bruce Schneier, Beyond Fear

“A simpler way of thinking about Interaction Designers is that they are the shapers of behavior. Interaction Designers; all attempt to understand and shape human behavior. This is the purpose of the profession: to change the way people behave.”

Jon Kolko, Thoughts on Interaction Design

It’s a rare software project that doesn’t require a developer to think about and implement user interfaces or security in some fashion. So it seems immensely useful for a software developer to view himself or herself as a shaper of human behavior, asking questions as a behaviorist to effectively create useful interfaces and secure software.

Here’s a related resource you might find useful: the User Interface Design Pattern Library.