Heuristics for user experience state that users will transfer their expectations from one product to another. A lack of consistency between products can increase users' cognitive friction, leading to frustration and rejection. This paper presents the first systematic study of the external, functional consistency of two-factor authentication user journeys on top-ranked websites. We find that these websites implement only a minimal number of design aspects consistently (e.g., naming and location of settings) but exhibit mixed design patterns for setup and usage of a second factor. Moreover, we find that some of the more consistently realized aspects, such as descriptions of two-factor authentication, have been described in the literature as problematic and adverse to user experience. Our results advocate for more general UX guidelines for 2FA implementers and raise new research questions about the 2FA user journeys.
Network and Distributed System Security (NDSS) Symposium 2023