Recap: User Experience in SSI (IIW UX) July 2021

I participated in the Internet Identity Workshop‘s first-time UX unconference. About 50 people attended.

Folks wanted to work on everything from detailed decentralized identity interaction design, improving adoption, and overcoming expeience barriers. Before the workshop…

The event’s prompt: What are the critical questions about UX and SSI you are hoping to discuss with peers at this event?

  • What is the roadmap from here to full adoption. How will UX play a part in this? What are going to be the most critical challenges.
  • What does an SSI interaction look like and where does it manifest. How do we reduce the considerable complexity.
  • Which identity conversations shall we design for humans interacting with smart things? Badge systems, streetcams, robots, cars, medical beds. What is needed for humans to have trust in those systems? And how do we manage the overload as identity data becomes complex and overwhelming? Are there metaphors besides OAuth and crypto wallets? [Mine. Can you tell?]
  • What will SSI user journeys look like and how can they be better than today’s journeys around mainstream digital identity?
  • Onboarding flows, profile sharing use cases and workflows
  • What makes good UX in SSI? I am looking for particular resources or sets of design principles that have been helpful for people thinking through specific use cases.
  • Is it possible to build extensible white label open source UI components for issuing and verifying credentials that is maximally useful for many different use cases?
  • Is it possible to make conscious design decisions that enable the tool to be easily changed or repurposed by the organization adopting it?
  • Designing for non-technical languages / Designing in other languages
  • How much should surfacing SSI be a focus of UX? Users want the functionality of SSI – but what % will see a real value prop just around SSI?
  • How to educate the user about the impact of SSI on their privacy. How to educate the user on how to share credentials and to navigate unfamiliar design patterns. Is it possible to transfer credentials between wallets?
  • I’m new to SSI and my colleague is asking me to join to learn more about the space

The actual sessions matched expectations.

  • A look at a first pass UI for SSI. It’s too complex, what now?
  • What is the complete list of use cases for identity conversations?
  • How can we convince real people they CARE about their data agency?
  • Is self-sovereign identity a human rights disaster in the making?
  • Requesting information from a user: What does it take to get an answer?
  • Onboarding & Education
  • Design for appropriation
  • How can we continue this work? Overcome barriers? Who is paying for SSI user research?
  • Crossing the desert of integration for issuers and verifiers
  • UX of Key Recovery/Management
  • SSI +/vs. Marketing & Customer Service

WiderPoV. Aside from craft and design questions…

  • There is tension between bigID and indie ID in funding a User Research Commons. If there’s fundamental research that benefits all and overcomes industry-wide barriers, it hasn’t happened.
    • BigID keeps their user research proprietary.
    • SmallID can’t afford more than product research.
    • Academia is… academia. Slow, niched, less actionable.
    • Government hasn’t expressed interest.
  • Everyone expressed frustration at frequent SSI UI/UX “Wheel Reinvention” and the Tower of Babel where user language is inconsistent and varies widely.
  • Many expressed fears. That needed edge cases are not researched. That “common knowledge” is based on anecdotes, biases, defaults leading the industry astray.

IIW builds toward an ongoing conversation among product designers, experience and interaction designers, and product managers in the early stages toward removing so much of this friction. It’s not going to happen fast.

Read more: Proceedings of 2021 IIW Special Topic Workshop – UX of SSI. (pdf)

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