If the user perceives that data entered into a website is insecure (if it is perceived that it can be hacked, stolen or tampered with), how is the usability of the site affected?

This question is in the context of websites which are

  • content based,

  • general utility,

  • e-commerce,

  • or any social networking site

I personally feel that if the data of a website involves any monetary transactions or any content that I wish to share with others should be highly secure and I should get confidence as a user that it will not be tampered with or viewed without proper permissions.

  • This is a bit of a confusing question. I see several questions in this post - does the appearance of bad security impact usability, how can you improve the appearance of security and 'does providing articles on security improve user perceptions of the security of the website'. Overall that makes this not an answerable question. Can you pick one of these and base the question around that? Or restructure the question around what you really need an answer to? There is to much going on in this post currently for us to do much with.
    – JonW
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 8:17
  • I have done modifications and opened 2 more questions. Please let me know if this if fine Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 9:26
  • You've asked 3 questions that probably could have been wrapped up/merged into one.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 15:42
  • But, in general, a web site that clearly had more thought put into the design and user experience is going to be perceived as a higher quality site and, therefore, more secure. But ultimately, your questions are about security more than they are about UX.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


If the user perceives that data entered into a website is insecure (if it is perceived that it can be hacked, stolen or tampered with), how is the usability of the site affected?

This specific question is about the impact on site usage rather than site usability.

  • The perception of security doesn't effect how easy a form is to fill out.
  • The perception of security does, however, effect how likely a user is to fill out that form.

Sites that request sensitive or Personally Identifiable Information should both be, and feel, secure. If a site doesn't feel secure, the user will be dis-incentivized to use the site. The user will be more likely to distrust the site, which will build barriers between the user and requests to provide PII or to provide access to sensitive information.

Therefore, the site must implement many visual and interactive elements that communicate trustworthiness.

  • Use of the color blue in the page design to represent professionalism and authority.
  • Real-time validation of form elements.
  • Simple, grammatical alert, warning and error messages.
  • Valid and current SSL certificates to enable HTTPS communications.
  • A simple, gold-standard domain name and TLD.
  • Most of all, predictable reactions to common interactions.

This will encourage trust in the site, which will increase the perception of security, and increase usage/compliance.

If we want to talk about usability rather than usage, reversing the logic of the question gets to the topic of usability. Rather, I'd ask:

How does usability effect if a user perceives that data entere into a website is insecure?


In general, people have different ideas about what information should be secured and what shouldn't. There is however a consensus on the security of, for example, banking information.

You could categorize it in this way:

For banking or e-commerce websites, the general user would want visual reassurance of security.

For social networking, the general user would want visual reassurance of privacy (control).

For content based websites and general utility websites, the general user would not care much for visual confirmation of security or privacy.

The best way to assess this is a more detailed level is to list the user tasks (use cases) of a specific website. Those tasks should give you a better idea of what the general user would expect in terms of visual reassurance of privacy or security.

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