sExtension: Working Towards A Safer Online Sex Community

UI Designer, UI Prototyper, UX Researcher, Report and blog author: Juan Martinez, Milla Zuniga, Yuxiao Shi, Autumn Liu

Problem Overview

Many people turn to sex work because of various circumstances, such as financial need or sexual liberation. Nevertheless, sex workers face various forms of harassment, stigmitization and criminalization, as social and legal conditions restrict safety and options for aid. This remains true even when they shift their work online. Our user research suggested that regardless of comfort level or industry experience, online sex workers face different security concerns, but are still unfamiliar with satey tools to protect their privacy and data. They also face challenges such as organizing clientele and keeping track of payments.

Our Solution

To combat our chosen issue, our team proposed sExtension, a Chrome extension dedicated to aiding sex workers in the online industry. Our extension keeps sex workers secure while working online through a VPN and camera blurring technology. Users can also easily view, navigate and update their schedule directly through the extension. Workers can also make private and personal ratings and notes about their clients that will be stored locally on their device. These notes and ratings from previous sessions can be accessed through a “contact book” designed to help them keep track of clients. We hope that through our extension, the online industry will become a safer and more accessible environment.

Initial Prototype and Testing

In order to rapidly prototype our solution, we decided on making a “paper” prototype by linking our digital sketches together on Marvel. This allowed us to make several iterations of our initial design with minimal effort. Our very first “paper” prototype was evaluated by our classmates, which led us to develop a more robust design, such as the addition of navigation bar icons at the bottom of the extension and more options for security.

Figure: The home page of our final “paper” prototype.

We conducted our usability testing with the final version of our “paper” prototype via in-person moderation and virtual screen sharing for additional notetaking and observations. All three test participants were also students at the University of Washington, but all have varying backgrounds of study and were not initially familiar with our product. Overall, the participants were able to successfully complete the tasks that we gave them, but provided good feedback for areas of improvement. Some notable results of the usability test included users consistently pressing the back button instead of the home button or users forgetting to press the “save” button. With the feedback and notes that we took, we were able to add valuable changes to our prototype before working on the digital prototype, such as emphasizing the menu icons. These improvements focused primarily on ease of usability for the scheduling features and clarity of the current system status.

Digital Mockup

We made a few changes between our preliminary digital prototype and final prototype. One of the changes we made was to make the color on the buttons a solid color so users know the buttons are clickable. Another change we made was to change the background color of buttons and text boxes to white so users don’t mistake them for inactive. We also changed the circle around the current date on the calendar to a filled circle so it stands out more to users. Another change we made was to add a search bar on the search results page so the user can easily expand their search or make another one. The final change we made was to add a settings page so that users could set their default settings.

Task 1: Client Organization

Task 2: Stay Safe when Working

https://www.figma.com/file/n6i4LvGEROU2esk294F0p5/sExtension?node-id=2%3A17

Summary

As the online industry expands, especially with the impacts that COVID brings, online sex workers need access to better tools to aid them in the online industry. Through our user research, we observed that all of our participants don’t keep themselves safe online outside of basic safety protocols such as changing one’s name. We also found that a handful of workers experienced some negative scamming interactions with clients. From this came sExtension, a Chrome extension dedicated to helping online sex workers for security and management. With sExtension, our users can easily keep themselves safe online through turning on a VPN and camera facial blurring software. They can also view their upcoming schedule and cumulative personal and private information about their clients for simple management. Through the ease of adding a Chrome extension, we hope to make protection and organization easier than ever and create a more accessible online environment.

University of Washington Computer Science, Intro to Human Computer Interaction