Restructuring Gate Labs

How can we make people feel in control of their front doors?

***Real project for mobile***


Gate Labs came to us with the first camera-equipped smart lock, a plan to launch in October, and a desire to find a distinctive voice before they brought this product to market.


I worked on a team of three as a UX designer with a primary focus on project management, research, information architecture, and business strategy. This project lasted three weeks.


  • Competitive and comparative analysis
  • Interviews
  • User testing
  • Information architecture
  • User flows
  • Persona building
  • Rapid iteration
  • Business strategy


Thanks to extensive user and market research we determined Gate’s new experience principles should focus on optimizing intelligence, convenience, and reliability.

In our remaining time, we put together mobile wireframes that would imbue these values and give customers a better sense of control.


We determined Gate’s ideal experience principles by analyzing the language currently used to describe the product. We examined the smart lock from three perspectives to ensure the full scope of product impressions and desires was represented.


Our first step in determining how Gate might be seen so they address the needs of a core persona was to examine how they saw themselves. This competitive research grid, pulled directly from the Gate Indiegogo page, advertises their product as a functional juggernaut. If you quantify metrics like video, audio and motion detection, Gate outpaces competitors like August and Kevo by a considerable margin. But while this competitive graph does a nice job showing the functional advantages of the smart lock, it lacks the personality that makes a person pick a product up, and the trust that makes them keep it.

Keeping this in mind, we widened our scope to examine how Gate is seen by actual users.


How is Gate seen by those who know it?

Our qualitative interviews with beta testers can be refined to the following statement: users expected more control than they actually received. Many testers expressed concerns about the lock’s inconsistent performance or high-maintenance notifications. Others simply wished the product did a better job meeting the expectations produced by their promotional video. No matter who you were talking to, it was clear there were improvements to be made.

How is Gate seen by those who aren’t familiar with it?

We also wanted to figure out how a normal, everyday consumer might see the Gate product. Was it flashy? What might they expect it to do? Would they see a purpose for it in their home or business? For highlights from these interviews, you can watch the video above, but the main takeaways were these:

  1. The product looks secure, but expensive. Price could be a barrier to entry for multiple parties.
  2. Most people think they have a medium to high tech tolerance. In other words, they might not immediately know what a product is supposed to do or how they’re supposed to use it, but they can pick things up quickly with the aid of clear instructions. This is important for the onboarding process, which Gate admits is tedious. Simple instructions, bread crumbs, and active encouragement can create a positive first impression of the product and set the tone for future interactions.
  3. Trust is a next step for this audience. If the product is easy-to-use and reliable for an extended period of time, that trust should appear, but the video above makes clear it isn’t immediately there.
“The less I have to worry about, the happier I am!”


Modified competitive and comparative graphs are based off company websites and consumer reviews

After we widened our scope to ensure the perspectives of both current and future Gate customers were represented, we were ready to re-address our original goal: determining how Gate might be seen so it best addresses the needs of a core persona.

Affinity mapping revealed that most user feedback had to do with one of the following descriptors: modern, informative, non-intrusive, versatile, secure, and consistent, and whether or not Gate was currently meeting the expectation for that descriptor. If we assume these adjectives are product desires, we can assume Gate customers (i.e. the core persona) will be satisfied when the product is doing these things well. If we hypothesize customers will be more likely to purchase this product when they believe these desires will be met, we can conclude that these six descriptors should appear at the root of Gate’s new brand. In our final edit, we further compartmentalize these descriptors into three core experience principles: intelligence, convenience, and reliability.

These new experience principles will not only meet needs of a core persona, but also give Gate the ability to differentiate themselves from competitors and comparators. A modified competitive/comparative research graph show Gate will be the only smart lock that emphasizes intelligence, convenience and reliability in its product. The values of intelligence and reliability appear to be especially diametrically opposed in many companies, so conquering these two will be strategically advantageous.


Beta testers and Gate staff identified the mobile app as the platform that offered the greatest opportunity for impact within this three-week period. Here’s a look at how we modified screens from different chapters of the app to best exemplify these new principles of intelligence, convenience, and reliability.

Snippets of artifacts from our heuristic evaluation (left) and feature prioritization






The Gate team’s reaction to our final designs and deliverables was overwhelmingly positive. Multiple team members said we helped them “step outside (their) box” to explore exciting new options, and expressed interest in reaching out for future design engagements.

Ryland is a fantastic UX/UI designer. He can take a holistic understanding of the user story and translate it into a design strategy any company would be proud to implement. Ryland and his team handled everything from researching users’ needs to synthesizing their findings into a core challenge, to creating a prototype that took their strategic suggestions and turned them into interactive visuals. While you will be thrilled with all of Ryland’s skills, it is his caring and dedication that set him apart from everyone else. I highly recommend Ryland for any project needs and would be happy to provide additional information on his performance should you need it.

Dariya Smailova
Head of Marketing at Gate Labs


The next steps for the Gate team will be to prioritize these recommendations, estimate engineering effort, and then asking how they might alter the physical Gate lock and e-commerce site so they also imbue these new experience principles. After that they can fully consider the end-to-end processes of their product and begin to ask how they’ll implement these principles so they’ll affect secondary users as well.