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The design of everyday identity

Eve Maler (Sun Microsystems Inc., Bellevue, Washington, DC, USA)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 19 June 2009




The purpose of this paper is to examine trends towards “user centricity” in web‐based digital identity technologies, and analyse these technologies in light of universal principles of human‐centred design and usability in order to recommend future directions.


Web users' habits and relevant usability research are analysed and requirements for identity‐enabled online interactions are proposed given this context. Modern identity technologies of various types are then studied to assess their ability to satisfy the requirements.


The results of these analyses point towards a possible explanation for the lack of wide adoption of today's user‐centric solutions.

Research limitations/implications

Based on the findings of the analyses, practical implications and recommendations are offered.


The paper's discussion of usability factors to consider and its set of final recommendations in light of these factors are new work that may be useful to identity management developers and deployers looking to achieve better user adoption, as well as to researchers and innovators in the fields of social networking and vendor relationship management.



Maler, E. (2009), "The design of everyday identity", Online Information Review, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 443-457.



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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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