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Location Based Personalization: Designing for Privacy

by Joe Johnston, Universal Mind / May 13, 2015

Note: This blog entry is available in English only.

Smartphone consumers expect personal experiences… they want their needs and desire to be understood without a hassle. They expect content to appear based on where they are and what they’re doing, and they expect those contextual experiences to follow them and offer that just right, “Goldilocks” experience.

A recent study on The State of Marketing proves that the most effective way to reach a consumer is with contextual based content.

Yet, most people still aren’t ready to forsake their privacy [completely]. “Privacy comes at a price. It’s not free.”

Having a customer give up a piece of their privacy is all about understanding value. For example; How many customers really know why an app wants to use their location? (i.e. Uber, Facebook, Instagram.)

As companies create these invisible experiences, they need to fully understand what it means when they’re asking for their customers to share their most intimate information. What you’re offering in exchange for their personal information has to be valuable enough to warrant the trade-off. This is where it comes back to contextunderstanding your user and what their needs and wants are at that moment will help you to be able to provide the best possible experience.

Being able to offer up that “just right” experience might even include offering some of these impressive wearable devices for free. The personal information of the user may be more valuable than the cost of that device. Take for example, Oscar Insurance, a New York-based startup. They send their members a free Misfit wristband to track their steps and whenever someone reaches a daily goal for a certain number of steps, the company pays them.

When thinking about designing a location-based experience, remember, “Contextual experiences need to outweigh the cost of their time and privacy.” As designers and creators of experiences like these, we’ll need to eliminate the noise and design for privacy.

Privacy will become something designers will be faced with in every design decision made. Design needs to include an equal balance of giving up privacy to gain a better experience. Balance is crucial and essential in getting users to feel comfortable enough to give up a piece of their privacy. The best thing to do is to be honest with your users; let them know the benefits of taking a piece of their privacy.

As consumer’s become more savvy and aware of personal data collection, great experiences will become more and more important. Being able to inform a consumer about what’s happening will help sell a product/service. It comes back to what the word experience really means, its how you make the person feel.

To read more about designing for privacy, check out this article on Designing for Privacy on Facebook, and this article on The Right Way to Ask Users for iOS Permissions.




  1. Location Based Personalization: Designing for Privacy - Universal Mind on May 13, 2015

    […] This article was originally published on SoDA Speaks, May 13, […]

  2. KC Ruddy on May 14, 2015

    Really enjoyed this article. I've tried to contact Eric about just this kind of personalized experience centered around music. Can't wait until its a reality.