Superbloom

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How To Test Software For Usability And Usefulness When You Haven’t Finished Writing The Code

How do you find out if the software you are building is usable and useful for others? We’ve written this blog post about how to address this challenge! It is often easiest to try out the software when it’s been fully built, but this is also when any mistakes are most difficult to fix because so much has already been coded. This is a concern and a challenge for product managers, developers and UX designers alike.
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Feira 2023: Reflecting, Reconnecting, and Revitalizing

In September 2023, we were able to participate in Feira, the Global Gathering, a festival for digital rights defenders, convened by Team Community. The Feira was a three day social and networking festival hosted in Estoril, Portugal on September 15 - 17, 2023. The event, designed, modeled and named for the concept of a community market, was created to provide digital rights defenders with a space to connect with others in the digital rights community for informal meetups, discussions, and joy — particularly as this was the first time gathering in-person for most participants since before the start of the COVID19 pandemic.
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From Policy to Pixels: Strategic UX Design and User Support for GDPR Implementation

Introducing our new report “From Policy to Pixels: Strategic UX Design and User Support for GDPR Implementation.” Supported by the University of California Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity (CLTC), we conducted research to better understand how GDPR policy implementation is situated in current UX practices and how multi-disciplinary product teams reach design decisions
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Superbloom's User Experience Toolbox for Risk Mitigation and Accessibility

Over the last six months, we’ve been updating our Usable Security Audit Methodology to better reflect our current practices, the advances in our fields of interest, and accessibility as a core principle. Through an inventory of our tools and practices, surveying the field to find similar work we admire, and workshops with close collaborators and community members, we revamped our approach, which we’re now calling our User Experience Toolbox for Risk Mitigation and Accessibility.
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Open Design Workshop at COSCUP 2023: Understanding Internet Shutdowns and How Design Can Improve Tools

At COSCUP 2023, we held a workshop "The Design We Open - Network Disruption Hackathon" (The Design We Open Workshop - 網路中斷黑客松), a workshop focused on how we, as designers and configurers of technology for human rights needs can better understand Taiwanese citizens' understanding and experiences of internet shutdowns, and what is important in a partial or full internet shutdown.
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Six Key Tenets for Open Source Designers

Being a designer in Open Source (OS) isn’t always easy or straightforward, neither is it the same for all designers. Different open source projects are set up differently, hence demand different outputs and engagements from designers. In this blog, we list the six main tenets for a successful design contribution to OS projects.

Human Rights Centered Design: Respecting the Privacy and Security of Users While Still Sharing User Insights Among Practitioners

With support from the Open Technology Fund Secure Usability and Accessibility Lab, UX Designers, User Researchers, Digital Security Trainers and OSS tool builders gathered at RightsCon 2023 for the Human Rights Centered Design convening. We held critical discussions about the challenges and opportunities that sharing user insights could bring to how OSS tools for human rights needs are built in ways that are more context sensitive and specific, and share these insights here

Launching USER: Findings and Recommendations for Scientific and Research Open Source

Usable Software Ecosystem Research (USER) is a Sloan Foundation-supported research initiative that explores how open source scientific and research software (SROSS) teams understand, consider, and undertake usability and design opportunities in their projects. To read more about this project please check out Blog #1, Blog #2, our project website, and open repo.
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Meet Jasmine McNealy, Superbloom Board Member

We welcomed Jasmine McNealy to our Board of Directors in 2022. Jasmine brings extensive expertise in privacy, information, communications, technology, law, and policy to our Board. We interviewed Jasmine to learn more about her, her career path, why she serves on our board, and what our mission means to her. Be sure to check out our upcoming interviews with Board members Jackie Lu and Scout Brody, as well.
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Where Can You Find Us At RightsCon 2023?

​​The world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age is back. After three years online, the 12th edition of RightsCon is both live in San José, Costa Rica, and online via the RightsCon platform from Monday, June 5 to Thursday, June 8 2023. Will you join us there?
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USER: A Work In Process

Part two in a series of three blogs. Here we outline part of our research process for the Usable Software Ecosystems Research project. USER is a Sloan Foundation supported research initiative that explores how open source scientific and research software teams understand, consider, and undertake usability and design opportunities in their projects.
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Join Us At MozFest 2023!

Superbloom will be hosting five sessions at the Mozilla Festival (Monday, March 20 - Friday, March 24 2023). If you’ll be there, we’d love to see you, meet you and get to know you. Come join us! Want to learn how to design a Tech Policy playbook? Are you interested in global tech transparency? Would you like to find out how shadow data affects you? Do you want to understand design’s impact on encrypted messaging? Are you looking for how to center human rights in usability? Join us and 1000s of others at MozFest 2023! This year’s event will be held in person in Amsterdam and online and the Superbloom team will be participating in five of the 360+ sessions. Intrigued? Read more in our post.

Learnings From OTF Shutdowns Getdown Gathering 2022

In October 2022, Open Technology Fund (OTF) brought together a group of around 50 technologists, researchers, usability experts, and digital security practitioners working on internet shutdowns. Together, the group engaged in many topics, ranging from understanding the lived experience of an internet shutdown to the challenges around technology interventions, and measuring and monitoring networks during a shutdown. An internet shutdown is when access to the internet is restricted, such that people are unable to use the internet or internet based services. This is an information control tactic that is increasingly being used around the world to affect the free flow of information. Our learnings from this session are outlined in this blog post.
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2022 Superbloom Highlight Reel

2022 was a year full of shifts, adaptations and evolutions for so many in our community. For us, we launched a new identity, welcomed four new team members and three new fiscally sponsored projects, and partnered with many new organizations and funders. And, for many on our team, this year presented several opportunities to meet for the first time in person. These markers of growth and evolution could not have happened without the continued support from our community.
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Join Us At RightsCon 2022

Would you like to hear how the move from deceptive design to trusted patterns is critical to our shared future? Would you like to learn more about how to make encrypted apps more inclusive and accessible? Do you need on the spot design and UX aid and advice to improve your tools? Simply Secure team members will be joining six sessions during Rightscon 2022: June 6-10. We’d love to see you, learn about your work, and collaborate. Come join us! .
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[Open Call] Submissions for “Reimagining Digital Consent: A Discussion & Gallery Exhibition” at MozFest 2022

Every day tech platforms confront us with information about how our data is used, and pop-ups with language like this website uses cookies, accept and continue are an accepted part of the online experience. Consenting to sharing data is so strongly encouraged by the platforms that “opting in” or “opting out” is not the right framework because coerced consent cannot be meaningful. However, new privacy regulations such as the forthcoming Digital Service Act from the European Union and California’s Consumer Privacy Act are initial attempts to empower individuals to give meaningful consent to data collection.
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Keeping Everyone Safe: Quick, User-oriented Problem-solving with Mapeo

This fall, we had the pleasure of working with Digital Democracy on their application, Mapeo. Mapeo is a mobile and desktop app that enables indigenous communities to map their lands, sites, and resources, as well as record and monitor environmental and legal abuses by corporations and the state. The app is used by communities around the world, and due to the sensitive nature of the data being recorded, contributing to Mapeo can be high-risk for users. Our design challenge focused on user safety: how to protect end users in the likely event that a community mapper’s phone is lost, seized, damaged, or stolen.
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Join Us at MozFest 2022

Are you stuck on how to build or communicate a feature? Not sure how to get user feedback? Want to learn more about how the consent user experience has changed? Are you eager to find out how to navigate design choices while prioritizing human rights? Is digital infrastructure funding a topic you are keen to hear more about? Want to dive deep into data colonialism? We have some answers.
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Finding the Balance

Mailvelope is a browser extension that makes it easy to use PGP encryption, whether you use Gmail, Outlook, or many other email providers. With the support of UXFund, Simply Secure worked with Mailvelope to support users who want to use an organization-wide PGP key to send an encrypted email. Kelsey Smith and Thomas Oberndörfer had a conversation in 2022, reflecting on the technical problem and the design process.
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2021 Reflections

In 2021, Simply Secure challenged the status quo, brought a DEI lens to our our work with partners, explored opportunities for strategic programmative, evaluative, and design interventions in infrastructure, solidified partnerships to support global projects in design and usability, built and shared open resources, and actively engaged with our growing community.
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SSL, TLS, and FTP... Oh My!

FileZilla is a popular open-source file transfer protocol (FTP) certificates with explanation and reassurance. Here we share how we tackled a FileZilla Server team to complete user research and provide design recommendations toward the goal of guiding users on how to set up TLS technical challenge as designers through strategic knowledge gathering.
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Bringing the Offline Online: Reviewing the Developer Experience of Awala

Technologies like Awala bridge digital divides and provide opportunities for people to connect safely, even when traditional infrastructure and politics might block their access. As part of the OTF Usability Lab, we performed a heuristic review of Awala and a review of the developer experience. Here we highlight the Developer Experience (DX), where we provided recommendations to make it easier for third-party developers to adopt the technology and suitable use cases.
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Reflections on the Mozilla Fellowships and Awards Impact Evaluation: Lessons for the Ecosystem

We interviewed 47 people and conducted 3 surveys to complete a 5-year retrospective impact report for the Mozilla Foundation’s Fellowships and Awards programs. You can read the full report here. The evaluation presents an in-depth look into the impact, strengths, and challenges of the Mozilla Fellowships and Awards programming, including recommendations for supporting leadership development in funding digital rights and internet freedom. Three key ecosystem findings: 1) Funding is essential and impactful, 2) Measuring impact is hard, and 3) Community is at the core.
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Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021

2020 was certainly different and harder than we all anticipated. Despite the challenges that 2020 brought, the team at Simply Secure did some amazing work, while also taking time to reflect and grow. We couldn’t have done this without support, collaboration, and solidarity from our community.
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Trust & Responsibility 'Tea Time': New video series with World Interaction Design Day exploring design and trust

Trust and Responsibility have been big topics recently. In the lead up to World Interaction Design Day, we'll be helping to make sense of the conversation sharing some of our understanding, gathering resources, and convening some conversion. Let's start the discussion over some tea.
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On Trust and Transparency: Perspectives from Luminate's portfolio

In June 2018, Luminate commissioned Simply Secure to conduct human-centered design (HCD) research focused on uncovering grantees’ experiences of the funding process. The report highlights insights, feedback — including anonymized quotes and comments, and recommendations synthesized from 20 interviews + 53 survey responses.
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A Guide to Gathering Feedback

While bigger companies have entire departments that do product design and market research, it can be difficult for smaller, distributed teams on a budget to get user feedback. We compiled a session guide to test your app with small groups, ideal for quick feedback at conferences and meetups.
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Respecting Participants in Privacy-related User Studies

I was in Darmstadt for Privacy and Security Week last week to present Simply Secure’s work on ethics in user research at HotPETS. You can check out the paper and slides on GitHub. Resources for ethical research In 2015, we did a field study that we …
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Event: UX in a High-Risk World

As you know, building great software depends on a deep knowledge of users. If you’re working on a project targeted at people who operate in high-risk situations, such as activists and journalists, it can be hard to get the quality insight you need to …
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Contracting Creatives, in Brief

Your team has reached the stage where you need to hire a professional designer. Maybe you want to finally get a great-looking logo, make a website that doesn’t look like it was designed in 1996, or create a really compelling video for your …
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Notes on the O'Reilly Design Conference

Last week I went to the O’Reilly Design Conference and enjoyed learning about emerging UX trends. The conference was full of high-quality presentations on UX practice. Here are three of my favorite talks. The Many Minds of the Maker Knight-Mozilla …
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Signing on to protect the internet

This week we joined nearly 200 other organizations, companies, and individuals in signing an open letter to the world’s governments calling for them to protect the integrity of online security, and to not undermine it by weakening, limiting, or …
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Some Of Our 2015 Favorites

2015 was our first full year in operation, and we’ve come a long way! Looking back at the past twelve months, here are some resources that we’ve found to be particularly useful (or entertaining). Let us know your favorites on Twitter! Ame’s picks …
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Donate to Simply Secure

Simply Secure is a non-profit organization, and we rely on donations to be successful in our work of getting privacy-preserving software in the hands of more people. To celebrate our official recognition by the IRS as a 501(c)3 organization – which …
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Underexposed: Building a Movement for Secure UX

Last week Simply Secure hosted a pilot workshop called Underexposed. A small group came together in San Francisco to: Share successes and challenges in secure user experiences. Describe processes and wishes for successful collaboration between …
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Fostering Discussions Around Privacy

This week we’ve been busy in New York City meeting with our advisors and co-hosting Art, Design, and the Future of Privacy. It was gratifying to see so many people turn out to discuss creative ways of approaching an issue that is dear to our hearts, …
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Art, Design, and the Future of Privacy

We’re headed to NYC next week for our annual Advisors’ Meeting. While we’re there we’re thrilled to be partnering with Dis Magazine to host Art, Design, and the Future of Privacy. If you’re in the area, please join us; the event is free and open to …
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Design Thinking

The latest Harvard Business Review (paywall, but with limited free content) has two articles about design thinking that are relevant for teams working on security and privacy: Design for Action by Tim Brown and Roger Martin and Design Thinking Comes …
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Empathy In The Real World

As a practitioner of Human-Centered Design, empathy is a core skill in the work I do. In No Flex Zone: Empathy Driven Development, Duretti Hirpa writes about how empathy can be a competitive advantage. “We build software for all kinds of people, and …
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Missing Trouble: In Memoriam

This week we are marking the sudden passing of our Operations Manager, Nóirín “Trouble” Plunkett, who introduced themselves here just a few short months ago. We are heartbroken, and it has been hard to come to terms with this unexpected loss. Ame and …
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Niaje! Introducing Maina

I’m Maina, and I’m excited to start out as a Senior Fellow at Simply Secure. Prior to this fellowship, I conducted research at the Center for Advanced Security Research Darmstadt, and the Technische Universität Darmstadt. Using both quantitative and …
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Hello Joseph and Kat

You’ve already met Gus, and we’re looking forward to introducing you to Maina, the other Fellow that Simply Secure is hosting under the auspices of Open Tech Fund’s Secure Usability Fellowship Program. Ours are not the only SUFP fellows, however – …
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All Your Base Are Belong To Gus

Hi, everyone! I’m Gus. I am pleased to be joining Simply Secure for a one-year fellowship. For the past year and change I worked for the Open Internet Tools Project, where I pioneered their work on security usability. OpenITP being an open source organization, I had the great joy of doing all my work in public, which means everything we did is still online and publicly available.
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What We Do

You learned at our launch that we’re setting out to improve the experience users have with secure-communication tools. We told you that we want to work with the open source community, and that we’re committed to documenting our activities …
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Dia dhaoibh, mise Nóirín!

Hi, I'm Nóirín (sounds like [n̪ˠõːɾʲiːɲ]). In Ireland, I have a pretty common name: I share it with professors, politicians, and even our police commissioner! Elsewhere, however, it's less simple. I've had conference badges in the names of "N√≥ir√≠n" …
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A Fellowship of Usability

Announcing a new program for usable-security researchers We are pleased to announce one of our first initiatives – the Secure Usability Fellowship Program (SUFP) – in partnership with the Open Technology Fund. This new program aims to cultivate …
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We're hiring!

Join Our Team and Let’s Make This Happen We have ambitious goals, and the first step to meeting them is growing our team. We’re officially hiring two new positions – an Operations Manager and a Research Director (or Associate Director). If you’re …
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Why Hello, World!

We’re here to make security easy and fun. Internet software links us to our friends, allows us to transact across oceans, and forms a digital space for culture and society. Because these technologies provide forums for sensitive discourse and …