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User Experience (UX) is Crucial for Internet of Things (IoT)

Posted by Indusa Admin on December 21, 2015 8:42 am

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User Experience (UX) is the foundation for amazing products that people buy, love, and recommend. When UX design is implemented in the right way it can provide optimal experiences at every touch point from marketing, sales, device setup, and use. Internet of Things (IoT) is growing at such an incredible pace that it’s bringing with it a wide array of opportunities. Product creators and developers have a tendency to focus on the data and technology needs of IoT (sensors, data, storage, security, and data analytics), but often forgotten is the end user who has to interact with the devices.

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Elegant conceptualization of UX design is crucial to the success of IoT. This ensures easy understanding, and effective analysis and review of the data, along with its desired usage and experience. Designing the overall experience of IoT technology involves the consideration of many elements; if these are overlooked, then IoT will be just a heap of useless information.

6 Key UX Experience Factors

IoT is changing the paradigm of how we use the internet. As most organizations are concentrating on delivering products or services that are necessary, desired, or in demand, UX can often be the true make or break factor. Below you will find six key UX experience factors that need to be considered when developing IoT devices:

Strong Emphasis on UX, but Less on GUI:

With the introduction of small form factors, the majority of next gen devices will have small or no visual interfaces. Meaning, there will be fewer buttons to push and scrollbars to pull. Without large scale screens, the need for excellent UX design becomes even more important, because the primary mode of communicating with these devices will be through the use of touch gestures and voice commands.

Quality, Not Quantity:

A top notch product easily stands out amongst its competitors, but it shouldn’t be distracting during practical everyday use. Users may find all the bells and whistles exciting in the beginning, but if a product is difficult to navigate, or is filled with unnecessary gimmicks, then its popularity will be very short lived. It is important to understand who will be using your product, and how much time they will be spending with it – if it’s a home based thermostat, that could mean a few minutes a day, versus a watch or phone which is used and accessed many times a day, every day. Sometimes it may be more prudent to just get to the point with a smart, simple product.

Differences Between Users:

Devices which are connected to each other will need to be examined and re-examined to ensure that they work for everyone. Imagine gadgets that fail to function because some users are too short to be detected by the device’s sensors. Devices that don’t account for a person’s change in appearance, speech patterns, and disabilities are going to frustrate users and quickly fall out of favor.

Branding Beyond Pixels:

With significantly less to literally no interfaces, branding will take on new identities other than the typical logos, taglines, and fonts. Users will make use of voice, sound, tone, and tactile feedback to identify a brand. A UX designer must understand how to communicate brand experiences using these additional features and experiences.

Designing With Data:

With the huge amount of data being generated by devices, a UX designer’s job will shift from owning the user interface and the actual user experience of a software to being a holistic data representation expert. The accuracy of data and the experience a software will create using that data, will become the new definition of user experience.

For instance, it might be convenient to have a large, shiny screen on your refrigerator that indicates which items you’re running low on, but you sure don’t want an ad popping up asking you to buy whisky or vodka when your evangelist mother-in-law is over for a visit. It will be essential to maintain user control over which alerts are appropriate and helpful.

Network Outages:

Keep in mind that devices won’t always be connected to the Internet, so your IoT device must be able to handle and operate through network outages.

Designing an IoT User Experience

In most cases, these connected devices are not developed on platforms that have existing UX standards, such as Android, Windows or iOS, so the UX typically needs to be designed from scratch. Designing an IoT user experience can be best achieved by looking across existing platforms and considering the web, then replicating the most commonly used and perceivable UX patterns.

One company that has done a great job with their UX is AdhereTech. They make smart pill bottles, which have visual and audible alerts to remind patients when to take their medications. They also follow up with notifications to patients, caretakers, and healthcare providers when this does not occur. The battery lasts as long as the prescription, so there is no need for the patient to recharge it. When the prescription runs out, the bottle can be returned to the pharmacy for re-use or recycling.

Another example of excellent user interface and experience design is an entirely voice driven software called Entervise. It is built as a remote collaboration solution for field technicians via a tough, head-worn computer with an under eye display. It enables technicians to connect to experts via the internet, have conversations, share videos and more –all hands free so they can continue to work on their task at hand.

People are always interested in innovative ideas and new ways to make their lives easier. Let’s think about the experience of unlocking a door.
What are some creative ways to improve this simple daily task? Some may suggest to put a PIN pad on the door; another would be to make the doors and handles aesthetically beautiful; include interesting graphic designs; single sign on login screens.  My answer from a user experience perspective is that these options lack empathy; you want the door to recognize instantly as you walk up without having to search for keys or type in digits.

The Future of UX Experience for IoT

IoT is a bleeding edge for innovation as its range is diverse – spanning agriculture, food processing, transport, utility, and security, in the business world and for consumers. An appealing UX makes it not only more user friendly but also gives the product improved chances of reaching a larger audience. UX design has many faces in IoT as it places problem solving between the business model and the user. Designing for IoT is inherently more complex than just software design – hardware adds new considerations and is less easily modified. UX designers are going to require innovation, creativity, and a keen understanding of human behavior to bring outstanding IoT products to life.

Want to learn more? Indusa helps you create an exceptional user experience to power your business.

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About the Author – Manan Thakkar

Manan Thakkar is a Solution Architect who spearheads&Indusa’s strategic initiatives to maximize customer benefits. His expertise is in enterprise consulting and solution design globally and he plays a key role in institutionalizing mobility to position Indusa’s services in leading enterprises.


Contributing Writer: Neha Kumar