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Designing for online safety: The story of CERT and DNA

Design outfit DNA helped CERT create a website to educate the public about cyber-threats and enable them to report what's going on. But there's far more to it than just that.

The stats are pretty grim: the cost of cyber-crime in Aotearoa in 2016 was an estimated $257 million, and 83 percent of Kiwis have experienced a cyber-breach. Yet almost two-thirds (61 percent to be precise) didn’t change their online behaviour.

That’s where the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) comes in. Design outfit DNA worked alongside the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to create a website for a new government agency that enables all New Zealanders to be alerted to, and able to report, cyber security issues.

Creative director Charlene Turei says the website was developed to make it easy for people to access the information they need alongside the reporting tools, allowing CERT to react. “We had to work really closely with them,” she explains, adding the task was somewhat easier since CERT had no previous brand that the public was familiar with or had expectations of.

Turei says the idea was to make the site accessible to two audiences: it had to have “readable, understandable” information everyone could understand regardless of whether or not they had a tech background, and it also needed to be able to meet the needs of tech experts. Produced under a tight timeframe, user-centred design needed to be at the forefront.

“It was especially important for non-technical users, who could be coming to the site in a state of stress,” explains Turei. “It needed to be friendly and non-threatening.”

That friendliness – or at least the fact the website is not intimidating to people who may be panicking – and use of natural language to help diagnose problems is what Turei says she’s most proud of. “It was about creating a natural language form that would help people feel like they’re being listened to,” she explains. “And a lot of technical people use it, too.”

Put even more simply? “It’s about being able to articulate something in a way that doesn’t stress you out more.”

Not bad for a website that essentially deals with computer problems.

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