How to Incorporate Privacy in Your Web Design

hand pointing at lock and security icons

If you have a website you need to have some type of added security. These website design principles should be known by anybody with a website, but if you own a business and depend on ecommerce, which is essential in today’s digital age, you especially need to know everything you can about data, privacy, and making sure you have a secure website. The steps down below are easy to follow and are cohesive. When designing a website, there is nothing to be worried about. You don’t need to be a master website coder, and there’s always the option to hire professionals that know exactly what needs to be done. 

But even if you have no intention of setting up privacy yourself, it’s imperative that you know some website design principles as the owner of said website. Internet users are a fickle bunch, and many of them are paranoid (for understandable reasons) that a new website they aren’t familiar with will infect their computer with viruses and malware the instant they check out the website. As the owner of the said website, it’s important to be educated on these matters, because in turn, you will have more confidence to reassure your website’s users that their data is being used with the utmost respect. You want them to know you care. 

Before talking about how you can encrypt privacy into your web design principles, you need to know just what personal data is.  

The Importance of Personal Data 

In simple terms, personal data is anything that relates to an identified or identifiable individual. If this sounds pretty vague, that’s because it is. Personal data is a massive umbrella term, because any time you are using the internet, you are creating data. It could be sending emails, using social media, or window shopping on websites, you are creating data. This information is in trade of a type of service—when you look up information on a type of product, you receive that info, and the website takes note that you might be interested in products similar to it. Web design principles try to keep this data secure from hackers, who would use this data to commit fraud or sell it.  

Due to this knowledge, personal data is incredibly valuable, considered the equivalent of oil in internet terms—it fuels websites and their design, helping them to develop their ideas to an everchanging market of consumers. The shocking thing about it is that it is given away for free, even though they are essential for data analytics and marketers to anticipate the future of their business. 

“Websites also collect information by placing cookies – small files of text that can collect and store information – on the hard drive of the computer you are using.“

Good web design principles make sure that data—if it is collected—is secure and safe. There are a few dangers with data though, it’s not all fun and cookies. Some of the most sensitive data you can lose can include health records, credit card information, or even your social security number. 

It Pays to be Transparent

Building relationships with customers over the internet is tricky. It’s not like a brick-and-mortar store, where face-to-face relationships are easier to establish because what you see is what you get. With hackers, scammers, and piracy, customers are more nervous than ever when it comes to buying online. This is why it’s important to be upfront with your customers. Good website design principles pride themselves on being clear to their users by using a simple and direct tone. When it comes to showing how your website is designed, keep the following in mind: 

  • 79% of adults claim they are very or somewhat worried about how companies use the data they collect about them
  • Roughly six-in-ten Americans believe it is not possible to go through daily life without websites collecting data about them. 
  • “71% to 79% of the surveyed consumers said they would be unlikely to share or let data about them be used by a company they did not trust.”

Your website design principles are there to reassure these nervous users that your website has no malicious intent. These stats are paramount to businesses working online, especially smaller ones who do not have an established product yet. The foundation of a good business-consumer relationship is built on trust, and in this world of data-driven misinformation, you need to be as open as possible. 

Trust indicators are the best way to implement this type of information. This will help increase website conversions, which are essential to having a fully functional website. Website conversions are any time a user performs a desired action on your site. Website design principles are there to help make these website conversions possible. This can be anything from buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, to filling out a form. Usually, these website conversions require a bit of private information from the user, from credit card data to even a simple email. If your site has a lot of website conversions happening, you can rest assured that your website is trustworthy. 

You’re at Risk Too

Your customers are not the only ones at risk, as a business, you too are susceptible to cyber attacks as well:

43 Percent of All Cyber Attacks are against small businesses.”

Website design principles are not just for your customer’s safety, they are for yours as well. If you are running a small business, you have enough going on. It’s hard to balance products, social media, and your finances all at once when you are terrified of having your business’s data stolen from you. Implementing privacy into your website’s design is not only for your customers, it’s for your peace of mind as well. As a website owner, you shouldn’t have to be concerned about getting your identity or your credit card information stolen. 

Privacy by Design 

The best way to help placate both yourself and your customers is to learn about Privacy by Design. Most modern-day website design principles embody the message of Privacy by Design. They are some of the most influential principles on web design and website security. It is an intuitive approach to systems engineering built on privacy-enhancing technologies. In other words, it is data protection through technological design. 

Privacy by Design is based on seven founding principles that will guarantee protection in your web design. These principles are followed by the top web designers around and are how they have created such outstanding reputations in the business:

  • Proactive not reactive; preventive, not remedial
  • Privacy as the default setting
  • Privacy embedded into the design
  • Full functionality—positive-sum, not zero-sum
  • End-to-end security—full lifecycle protection
  • Visibility and transparency – keep it open
  • Respect for user privacy—keep it user-centric.

These seven website design principles were first written by Ann Cavoukian in 1995, and almost three decades later, they are still just as relevant as ever. They are considered the standard that all website designers must follow, guaranteeing the users that their experience on the web will not be jeopardized by illegitimate businesses and hackers trying to steal and sell their data. 

computer placed on table

Security, What Does It Look Like?

When having a website designed, there are a few golden rules that are fundamental website design principles.

  • Do not share private information online. This might sound like an obvious statement, but that is what makes it a golden rule—it’s a rule everybody needs to know if they want to have a website of their own. This is especially important to remember when sharing things on social media. Always be aware of what you are posting when promoting your business, because sometimes the information can be used to gain your trust, and then you get scammed. Take time to look through their privacy settings and know their rules. 
  • For those of you that live and work in the US, PIN lock your credit files. This is a great design principle because it will protect you from identity theft. Even if the hackers have your date of birth and security number, it will make it impossible for them to open up any accounts that are in your name. You can temporarily lift the credit freeze if you need to apply for a new credit card. While the freeze is on, you can still apply for jobs, rent an apartment, or buy insurance without lifting the credit freeze. PIN locking your credit files is completely free and just requires you to contact one of the three credit bureaus— Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.  

Privacy Laws 

Privacy by Design is not simply a recommendation, it is a website design principle that is legally enforced by governments. The intention behind these laws is to protect the data of those who are using the internet legally.  

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are two important laws to know when it comes to privacy and data collecting. They require website designers to follow the highest standards of professionalism when building websites. The European GDPR, for example, requires websites to incorporate Privacy by Design. 

Transparency and Implementation (How to Do It)

When it comes to your customers handing over their data, being transparent with them does wonders in creating a healthy relationship. Website design principles are there as a reassurance to your users that your website is legitimate. As mentioned before, this is the best way to develop an honest relationship with your customers. Use trust indicators as a great guideline to prove to your users that your site is honest. 

  • Giving clear sharing notices (i.e. allow all cookies) allows them to give their consent before handing over data to your website. 
  • Great photos and visual graphics are a wonderful way to make your website not only appear up to date but reassure your users of the legitimacy of your site. 
  • Trust symbols on the site are a great visual representation of strong website design principles. Visual examples are quick and easy to recognize, making sure to not take up a lot of the users’ time. Images like BBB or another official institution. 
  • Make sure your policies are clearly on display. If you have a policy page, make sure it has all the information your users would need.

Your website is set up for your users. Its look should be modern and easy to use. Creating this type of comforting accessibility is paramount to creating a user base that cares about your content. 

Keeping Websites Safe

Another encryption essential to keep you and your website’s users safe is HTTPS ://. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a type of encryption in website design. Like other website design principles that emphasize security and privacy, HTTPS is about the protection of both the server and the user when they are in conversation. The purpose of HTTPS is to help ensure safe and secure website design, protecting both you and the users’ data while they are surfing the internet. HTTPS specifically helps protect data that is in transit. For example, if you run an ecommerce business and somebody is sending you their credit card data to purchase your product, a hacker could try to snatch that data before it arrives. But HTTPS is there to prevent this from occurring—and therefore helping to promote website conversions, the goal of website design principles. This is the most important aspect of a good website, making sure the connection between the client and server is secure.  

What is the Goal?

BESTWEB designs are about legitimacy. A professional cares about the goodwill of their website and its users. The goal of your website is to create website conversions because this is the best way to indicate that your website is going well. When the user is interacting with your website and comes back again and again, you have succeeded. 

Starting a website can be a challenge, and so much rides on the first impressions of your users when they see the homepage of your website. Website design principles are there to make sure that the first impression is a positive one. From aesthetics to information and content, your website needs to be a balancing act of sorts that has your users in mind. But when you have a lot of users returning to your site, it will all be worth it.