Redesigning Your Connected Homes Product

I am not the user…therefore I must interview!

To build any product worth using I believe it’s important to start with research.

The first and biggest challenge I faced with connected home devices is that zero out of the 7 people I interviewed used them. This meant that I needed to focus on asking questions that revealed users’ behaviors outside of the scope of connected homes devices.

When I started asking about people’s behaviors — how they interacted with their home on a day-to-day basis, what their habits were, what apps they used and where they used them, what actions they took to show what they cared about — I began to identify patterns.

Affinity mapping.

I had assumed that home security would be one of the users’ biggest concerns. Through creating an affinity map with insights I gathered from my research, I was very surprised to find that none of my users actually cared about home security!

Most current connected home devices do not offer a baseline to let users monitor and see the advantages of having a connected home app. Since most of my users focused on saving money and energy, my solution would be to build a product that would help them to keep track of money and energy spent.

Identifying problem areas.

Discovering the problem statement

How many people have the time to find out their energy usage per month, try to compare that with their past usage and what others are currently being charged, and calculate just how much they’re saving with the device?

I’d identified the problem:

Users want to know how much energy and how much money they are saving using a connected homes app, but how would they keep track of and compare this information on the app itself?

An answer

I concluded that I would create an app that would easily let users access all the information above, all the while being easy to use and limited to features that only the majority of my users would care about.

Sketching, prototyping, and testing out the product

The final sketches emerged from 6 or 7 hand-sketched iterations and getting feedback from classmates and friends outside of GA. Using PoP, we built actionable prototypes. This part of the project ate up a substantial amount of my time. I was spending too much time on trying to get things perfect. Looking back, and looking at some of the best presentations showcased on Friday, it’s best not to sweat the small details.

The process of sketching & prototyping.

Watching my users test out the product gave me even more insight. Because I built the product, it was initially difficult to un-learn how to use the things I had made and look at it objectively. Through contextual inquiries and having users walk me through how they were using the product, I discovered pain points of the prototype, and adjusted my product to alleviate those pain points.

Guest appearance by Douglas Hiller helping me to test out my product.

What’s next?

I want to hi-light 3 major next steps I want to take.

Logo and product name
I didn’t have a logo or a name for my product. Without one you cannot build an experience, and without the experience you cannot build trust with the customer!

Using a persona
In my next project I plan to create a few personas who would be my typical users. This will help tell a better story to the audience/stakeholders.

Time management
As I look towards the next project, I want to focus on flow and function, rather than tiny aesthetic adjustments.