Student safety has always been one of the biggest concerns in US society. Besides physical harmness, along with technology improvements, less-visible threats online have been rising, such as violent, pornographic, or other inappropriate information. It is getting grim, as a growing number of school districts offer laptops, iPad, Chromebooks or other devices for students to use in the classroom or at home. It is essential to keep an eye on students’ online activities so that school administrators and parents can identify potential threats or safety concerns early.
Nowadays, in the US, over 10,000+ schools have deployed online safety appliances a.k.a “Securly School” served by Securly Inc to monitor and filter students behaviors from any devices on their network. Instead of expensive devices, Securly School is supported by cloud-based services, for example, detect content on devices and block it, scan email, doc and drive for nudity, cyber-bullying and self-harm, etc. By leveraging these features, school administrators can monitor students’ use of school devices including internet usage while on the school network. Controlling the Wi-Fi connection of students’ school devices is also feasible. What if students use devices out of school network, for example, at home after school. Can parents play as school administrators to monitor children’s activities online in real time ? This critical problem was what my team and I figured out.
How to approach
We considered leveraging existing cloud-based services of Securly School to manage the school devices on the home network because school devices have already deployed MDM setup. We particularly designed a mobile app Securly Home as a portal for parents to view and manage children’s behaviors on school devices that are connected to home Wi-Fi. This free service extension on school devices provides parents a good user experience of how effectively protecting children online. The parents gaining benefits from this “free-trial” service would likely pay for an advanced device “Premium Hub” deployed to the home router for managing all private devices in the same manners. Considering the base number of schools and parents that have been using Securly School and Securly Home as well as the good feedbacks of user’s experience, we believe “Premium Hub” could be easily accepted and rapidly take the market share.
Define the problem
Early insight from user survey
Our user survey found that 8% of parents didn’t want to buy their kids tablets or smartphones, because they worried that it was dangerous for kids getting online. 46% of parents set strict time limits for their kids’ internet use. 48% of parents revealed their intentions to buy professional network safety products to protect their kids. Based on the survey analysis, we noticed that a widespread concern of parents is if there is a reliable and easy-to-use solution to provide safety on the home network.
On the other hand, we also noticed that kids were very resistant to network safety products. This conflict happens especially in multiple children families. The elder children felt untrusted by parents due to explicit controls or limits of network use, which led to family squabbles between parents and children.
Deep insight from Version 1
A simple and reliable network management solution was introduced in the v1 version of Securly Home. Parents can create, edit and delete rules and permissions in this network management, and apply the rules and permissions to any devices connecting to the home network where the Securly Home deployed. These rules are like prohibiting use of the network, blocking pornographic and violent content, etc. By this mobile app, parents can review the real-time activities metrics of any device on the home network, and can stop/retain network connections of any device being monitored as well.
This version provided parents flexibility to manage multiple devices on the home network, however there were issues remaining. For example, each child in a multiple children family might have more than one device of different types. This version of management solution did not allow review devices by person, so that management workflow was tedious and complex,
Scope and vison
To provide a solution with which all parties including parents and children to be comfortable to minimize conflicts of internet limits, to reduce parents’ concerns about the online safety of kids. As the last piece of the puzzle, to complete the product line of Securly for dominating market share of network safety solution providers.
Define the features
The idea of "Kid's Profile" came from our user survey. 58.5% of the surveyed families have more than one child, and 20.6% of the families have more than 2 children. A child-centric setting has become a core need. Parents need to check the activities of different children and set permissions for them.
Scope of Kid’s Profile
The earliest challenge for us was not about adding a new feature, we needed to change the product logic behind. It would impact almost all existing features. Making a list of all potential impacts for the first time would help the team to understand the road map of this project. Moreover, it helped engineers to know more complex backend changes and prepared APIs in advance if it's necessary.
Define the user journey
Flowchart and wireframe
User testing and improvements
Once I finished the initial prototype, we decided to do the first user interviews by asking testers to perform a series of tasks.
By watching users use our product, we found the workflow and user experience still need improvement. One participant felt uncomfortable when the app asked him to type the kid's name and birthday; there was no need for parents to select kid's age before the user testing. No one could finish the task to pause only one device from a profile.
Based on all the problems that we found in the first round user testing, I reconsidered details and implemented details in a high prototype like this:
1. Instead of asking the kid's birth date, let users select the birth month. Also, I removed the age pick and added "Why we need this" as extra information to explain why parents need to give the age. Less concern about privacy and a more straightforward experience.
2. Based on the first user testing, we found users didn't notice they would pause individual devices from the kid's profile tab; every tester went to "Manage Devices." That's why I added a pause feature to Manage Device in the high prototype.
3. We improved more details like adding "Don't show me again" to the setup introduction; Select devices first instead of setting rules etc. We did the second user testing after the high prototype was done. We asked testers to finish the same tasks s as the first user interview; the conversion rate improved a lot!
Introducing Securly home v2
Create different profiles for different children
Watch the real time online activities on the different kid’s profiles
Assigned related devices to the kid’s profile that the user created.
What I learned
Kids’s profile is the core feature of Securly Home. We evaluated the impacts of design changes of v2 to user journey, and detailed the changes and corresponding impacts. It was still a big challenge when we executed the design, because the changes of product strategies of v2 affected functioning teams on every aspect of screen details. After delivering the design to the engineering team, we made big efforts on debates, repeated discussions and revising designs with engineers about lots of scenarios implementation to make it through. I harvested experiences that fully consider the impacts of design change with foresight and cautious hashing out.