When it comes to engaging users, software developers, freelancers and designers have been at the forefront of creating highly engaging experiences through manipulative techniques. While some argue that manipulation can be used for good, the reality is that it often leads to addiction and, as recent revelations have emerged, serious negative consequences that can impact the mental health and well-being of users.
Now however, there is a movement towards more authentic design practices that respect users' rights to privacy, safety and transparency to what they are engaging with through Authentic Technology (AT). With this movement, a new breed of digital professional is emerging who rejects the negative techniques of heavy manipulation and opts for creating products that are genuinely useful as the final measure. These products are built on a foundation of utility and user-friendliness, not on shady tricks that keep users hooked. If more software designers strived for this kind of design, the industry would be better off and so would users.
- How do brands aligned with mental health and wellness justify engaging with customers on technologies proven to be detrimental to both?
- What are the responsibilities of technology companies to ensure their users are aware of the inherent risks associated with their use?
- How does a brand show they were acting responsibly to protect their customers in this ever-changing environment?
What is Authentic Technology (AT)?
Authentic technology places a primary emphasis on non-manipulative engagement with users. Essentially, authentic technology is built in such a way that users understand what they are agreeing to as they engage with the solution without having to read through extensive terms.
The benefits of Authentic Technology include improving the quality of the product and the user experience, reducing privacy and security gaps, and increasing digital trust for both the consumer and the brand.
Why is Authentic Technology important?
Those who build software understand that there is no such thing as morally neutral technology. Software comprises frameworks and design decisions made by its creators that have a significant human impact. Authentic technology is about empowering users with knowledge as to exactly what they are engaging with so they can make informed decisions. As you build a hub or app, this is a critical consideration.
For example, at InspireHUB, we believe that privacy is an important human need, not just a human right. It's right up there with water, air, and food. Our value of privacy informs how we operate, and also what we believe, which informs what our team designs and builds.
We believe that customers have the right to decide what parts of their data are harvested and how it is put to use.
We understand that humans behave differently when they know they are being observed. We also know that some of the greatest insight and inspiration usually happens as we have the power to sit privately, and really think through things.
Our company wants our employees to have as many a-ha moments as possible. We also want our customers to feel confident and secure when they engage in the products and solutions we build at InspireHUB.
We believe in the value of privacy, and so it informs our actions. Embracing privacy as a core value has not been a detriment, rather it has brought life to our company and to the products we have built. This shouldn't be any surprise, because the same thing happens when we breathe oxygen, drink water and eat.
There are five main standards for those who create Authentic Technology. These include:
When users are engaging with the software, it should be clear what they are opting into. If the data will be sold to a third-party for other purposes, then this should be easily revealed without having to read through long terms where such items are typically hidden.
The goal of authentic technology is to reduce instability wherever possible. Authentic technologists place an emphasis on designing systems and software that are consistent in quality performance and can be trusted as a result.
Whenever possible, the use of plain language will be used to ensure users can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information as needed.
Systems, processes and design of the technology are all created in consideration and support of the latest best practices in Cyber Security and Privacy by Design.
Integrity plays a key role in Authentic Technology. Engineers work hard to create vibrant and engaging solutions without manipulation wherever possible.
Why does Authentic Technology matter? Authentic Technology is important because it seeks to ensure that users are not surprised by hidden tactics, especially when those tactics could have potentially negative impacts.
Certainly, from a moral perspective, this is the right thing to do. However, we are now understanding that it is also a commercially viable strategy. Consider some of the following based on the characteristics of Authentic Technology:
According to the ROI of Transparency: A Consumer Market Research Study, one in five of US consumers choose a transparent brand as their first choice.
Brand reliability is cited as one of the key factors in acquiring consumer trust. 45% of consumers say that reliability is a top consideration when trusting a brand.
In June 2021, Apple revealed that it’s emphasis on Privacy was not just a marketing point but a major strategic pivot that allowed it to distinguish it's products from Android and Windows competition.
According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, people are looking for leadership in the face of a growing Trust gap. The Barometer also mentions that trust remains one of the most important currencies in lasting relationships across the various institutions they studied.
Interested in learning more? The 2023 Future of Apps Whitepaper is now available!