Risks pay off in unexpected ways
Who reads privacy policies anyways?
We didn't start with the obvious — brand requirements or technical parameters. Instead we asked, "Pirates or ninjas?" That set the tone for our relationship with the team and, as we later learned, helped define the project.
Embracing unusual ideas
How a silly idea turned into a reality.
Our design process always begins with opening up problems, exploring opportunities, and focusing on the concepts that stick before closing down on solutions. We start with sharpies and paper long before Photoshop or code editors.
In this case, we explored many ideas:
- What if we presented the policy in a video?
- What if we offered "legal" vs "human" modes?
- What if the policy was in Q&A format?
- What if it was a storybook?
We almost took it out — a cartoon would probably be too flippant for a serious company like McAfee. After all, privacy is serious business. But, at the last minute, we put the ninja back into action. We meant it as an icebreaker, and to our big surprise McAfee loved the idea.
Trailblazing new ideas
User tests via sketches and wireframes.
Illustrating a legal document in a flipbook cartoon was risky. We knew that older token solutions, like tweaking the line height and a few changing margins, wouldn't work. With no prior examples that mixed martial arts with legalese, we took about a week longer than usual to test the ideas. But over several iterations we found that a "graphic novel" format was the most approachable, easy to understand and navigate.
The more we explored the concept, the less traditional our ideas became. The ninja would not be decoration tacked onto the margin — he would be integral to the content. He'd be building a firewall. He'll lock data away for protection. He'll analyze your system for loopholes.
Taming risks with follow-through
The final design informs users of their privacy in story form.
It was a move that's still paying off. Today, organizing code with techniques developed during the McAfee privacy project is making the transition from Foundation 4 to version 5 far easier than the transition between versions 3 and 4.
The value of an idea
Thinking outside of the box really helps.
What started out as a wildcard idea — and almost didn't made it into the presentation — turned into something the whole McAfee team could own. Part of taking risks in design is knowing when they're appropriate. Storybook or not, the policy remains a legally binding document. The legal team was adamant on certain phrasing — as they rightly should be — but we were able to break it into easily digestible chunks. And illustrate it with ninjas.
Great ideas are like ninjas. They won't reveal themselves to people who don't take a little risk.