Following up on a successful redesign, our team developed and shipped a new feature for the company’s flagship browser extension. This allowed us to enrich the initial offering and pave a smoother road towards switching to the paid model as well as an integration with Avast One suite.
Back in 2021 Avast purchased a popular browser extension called "I don't care about cookies” created by Croatian developer Daniel Kladnik. It had around 750k active installs on a Google Chrome store alone. The extension removes cookie consent prompts, allowing people to browse most websites without interruptions, which is especially relevant for EU, because of GDPR compliance.
The plan was to improve and embed that functionality into one of the privacy-oriented products to strengthen the value provided to the user. In the beginning, our main candidate was Avast AntiTrack — however, being a paid product, it wouldn’t have received significant benefits from such integration. At that time, overshadowed by a number of major internal changes in Avast, the purchased extension was put on the back burner for a while.
Luckily, a perfect opportunity emerged by the end of 2021 with the revival of Avast Online Security & Privacy (AOSP), which quickly risen to be one of the top products, and could’ve used more features to support its core offering.
As the designer of AOSP v2, I was assigned to perform the creative work required for this project.
Goals for design:
▪️ Enable our users to have an option to get rid of the “cookie consent” banners, if they’d rather not have their browsing experience being constantly interrupted.
▪️ Address the situations where people would face a complex cookie banner with multiple options — something the original extension struggled with.
▪️ Seamlessly build in the new feature into a recently created framework, tailoring both the UX and a visual appearance according to the set up standards.
Business justification was already done prior to the design activity, so the discovery in its classic form wasn’t needed from our side. We started with thinking about the potential location of the new functionality in the existing product. The challenging part was to find a delicate balance between value provided to the user, usability, in-app visibility and impact, while not stealing too much thunder from the existing primary features.
In the original "I don't care about cookies” extension, an interface was pretty much non-existent, so we started with a clean slate, only adopting some parts of its backend.
Our initial ideas ranged from a single checkbox in settings to a full-blown tab in the UI with its own tweaks and data. The more we talked about it with the stakeholders, the more apparent it was becoming that the richer experience should be the way to go. With that, we’ve decided to include at least the following parameters: an on/off toggle, value indicators, customization, and whitelisting.
I wireframed the concepts that covered all our ideas and requirements. We went through a few rounds of internal feedback, and then I moved on to produce hi-fi visuals to run the first external user test.
After running the high fidelity screens by the team and getting approval from our project owner, I created a prototype in Figma, emulating the flow from installing the extension to discovering and using the Cookie manager feature.
To prepare for the user interviews, we’ve sourced potential inquiries from all stakeholders and key team members. The interview part of the process was covered by my colleagues Natalie and Veronika. I hopped on one of the first calls to see if we’re on the right track with getting useful info (we were!). They also did a great job of putting together an extensive summary of the findings; however, I still watched all the recordings later by myself to jot down some specific points I was looking for.
User experience research outcome
The results were fantastic and, to a certain extent, eye-opening. I think it was one of the most useful qualitative user research I’ve had in a while, because of the amount of important insights that people shared with us. As it usually happens, some of our previous assumptions failed, and some performed really well.
For example, initially we adopted a tooltip system from the company’s main product Avast One, where people would hover over a question mark icon and read a short helper text. This seemingly ubiquitous interaction, being as old as any visual OS, should be pretty obvious for the user, right? In reality, only two people out of ten actually found it, and only one of them cared to read the text. And even that person had a hard time understanding what we were trying to convey.
Overall, the feature was well received, and there were only medium to minor issues in its general usability. The summary of our findings was presented to the group to be discussed and prioritized.
Next, I set on to structure, verify, and implement the feedback we agreed on addressing.
As a result of this research, we have reimagined the way we were talking about complex cookie popups, and the options provided to the user.
Usually, we would have conducted a second round of qualitative research to see if the improved version performs better. Because of the tight timeline, the decision was made to proceed with the release, get quantitative data, and then revisit the feature for phase two of the updates.
We had a dedicated unit of engineers assigned to the project, so our collaboration started as soon as the objective was launched. Working together, we’ve been building the feature in a flexible and timely manner, quickly resolving any emerging issues. I was happy about the level of attention our front end received to be pretty much spot on and true to the design.
How we measured success
The set of OKRs was pretty straightforward: meeting the production deadline, tracking and improving adoption after release, looking at the sales impact (coming from cross-promos), increasing NPS results by a set amount, etc.
We have successfully designed and delivered a new feature, which was immediately communicated to our users through a marketing campaign, serving as an important milestone for the Avast Online Security & Privacy product development. Over the next few months the rate of adoption and engagement with Cookie manager exceeded our expectations.
This is a perfect example of an end-to-end regular design work in a corporate environment (sans discovery phase). I would even call it routine, but these projects are always unique and do present a certain challenge. In this particular instance, I really liked how user research pivoted our designs and significantly affected the complexity of the information presented to the people.
Within a single project I had a chance to come up with a new information architecture, create raw concepts, craft prototypes, validate our ideas through feedback sessions and research, build high fidelity UI, ship to developers, and work with them to oversee the implementation — it really had it all.