Welcome to the third installment of UX Focus where we discuss all things user experience related. This post is focused on a prompt from Skype to allow a .exe file access.


Skype Permissions

When I launch Skype it pops up with this lovely prompt stating that “RAVBg64.exe wants to use Skype” with the options to “Allow access”, “Deny access”, or close the prompt completely. There is also some sort of battery looking icon with the text “API” inside of it.

There are a few problems here for the average user:

1. RAVBg64.exe is technical gibberish.
2. There is no clear recommended choice.
3. There is no additional information to understand why the user should allow or deny access.
4. The icon presented doesn’t add anything helpful.

#1 Technical Gibberish

First problem for the average user is that this description (“RAVBg64.exe wants to use Skype”) doesn’t make sense and looks scary. It’s very possible the user may know what a .exe file extension is but that could lead to further confusion. The users thought process may very well look something like “Why does this RAVBg64 application want to use Skype?”, “Is it going to install a new program?”, “Is this a virus?”, “I don’t trust this.”, then they click “deny access”.

Having a user friendly description can go a long way in guiding the user to an informed and confident decision.

#2 No Clear Recommendation

Users love guidance, especially when they are unsure. The two main options to choose from look the exact same. Both are the same color and shape and practically the same size. There is no clear indicator into which option would be the recommended option.

#3 No additional information

There is no offering of additional information for the user to learn more in order to make an informed decision. Can the user pull up Google and search? Absolutely. Is that hand holding the user through the experience? Is that delivering a superior product experience? No. We should always be looking for ways to enhance the user experience when they are interacting with our products. This is a great opportunity to lend a helping hand and delight the user.

#4 Unhelpful Icon

What might the average user think when they see this icon? “What does API mean?” “Is that a battery?” “Maybe this has to do with battery life?” “I don’t know what this is for.” Really the only thing that this icon is doing is adding to the confusion.


Possible Solution

Okay so we have the bits of information for what went wrong. Let’s talk about how we can prevent something like this in the products we are building or fix similar issues in existing projects.

#1 Using user friendly language.

“For full audio capabilities Realtek Audio-Video Background process 64 Bit (RAVBg64.exe) wants to use Skype” vs “RAVBg64.exe wants to use Skype”. Yes it’s longer but it exponentially improves the user experience immediately.

Now the user understands right away that whatever needs access has to do with audio and video. Something they likely want full capabilities for while using a messaging program with voice and video conferencing.

Adding additional copy shouldn’t be seen as a negative. There’s has been this trend towards minimalist copy (and clicks) in an effort to speed up the user experience. The thing is though, it only speeds up the experience if it truly simplifies the process and the user can make quicker decisions.

For example, having less clicks for the sake of reducing barriers in a sales funnel doesn’t equal higher conversion if you take out important clicks that clarify the process. It’s the same thing for copy. Less copy doesn’t equal quicker comprehension.

#2 Design the users choices.

This is a very common design pattern. Whichever choice you want the user to make you put an emphasis on that button. Now it’s important to understand that you don’t want to trick or fool the user. IF the recommended choice is in the best interest of the user who may not totally understand what they are allowing or denying access for, then guide them to the appropriate choice.


#3 Lead the user to an informed decision.

By incorporating the additional copy from #1 we have already made a huge improvement. Now we just need to lead the user to additional information so they can learn and understand further if needed. Adding in a hover state or a “more details” link that further explains what RAVBg64.exe is will fully arm the user with the information to make an informed decision.


#4 Use iconography to enhance understanding.

Use icons that make sense to the average user. Maybe this icon makes sense to someone who is technically savvy but to the average user it does nothing to help explain what is asking for access. Having a microphone, speaker, or camera icon would help the user associate the icon with what RAVBg64.exe does.

Putting it all together.

Here is a quick 10 min mockup of a potential solution and how to tie all of these points together.

It’s important to note that with every product there are system limitations and it may not be technically possible to execute the perfect UX. But if we can recognize the pitfalls and plan for them early, we can deliver the best user experiences we are capable of.

About This Series

UX Focus is a series of blog posts aimed to help educate and discuss User Experience Design and the many disciplines that surround it. The goal is to start a conversation to build an understanding about why UX design is critical to building successful products, how it’s leveraged, and show examples of what both good and bad user experiences look like so that we can evolve as product designers and give a greater understanding to the public at large. Check back often as we will work diligently to post more examples as they cross our path.

About the Author

Danny Johnson is the Lead UX Designer at Celedon Partners with 8 years of industry experience visually designing and building products for clients. He is passionate about discussing all things design and invites you to engage, challenge, and discuss your thoughts or ideas.