Retrospective Project 1: FERTIG (Your Smart Home Maintenance App)

If there’s anything that I’ve learnt from Project 1 is that

  1. One of my classmates is a ghost-ist. (Come on, Nic. It’s 2017. Not cool to be prejudiced.) His ex-neighbour-turned-pesky ghost who jumped to his death from his corridor is now his motivation to get a smart home. Da, my UX komrads. In a not distant future, if Nic has his way, our homes would be smart and spirit-proof.
  2. I am the only one who cares about privacy and cyber hacking. Or am I paranoid? Nahh.. those kids just don’t care enough.
Me, screaming at iCloud when Apocalypse Cyberhack 2.0 happens

When I first received Smart Home as my project, I was nervous. No, it wasn’t because I had worn mismatched green-striped socks on the first day of class. I’m proud of those socks, thank you very much. We may live in a time where getting booty at 2 am simply by swiping right is easier than getting a pizza, but Smart Home? Who among us peasants, truly has a Smart Home? Thanks, Nic. On the other hand, getting travel, food is a bit overdone. So seriously, thanks, Nic.

Pre-Interviews Assumption

My preliminary assumption is that just like me, a normal functioning at-times awkward lady, others will be equally wary against the onslaught of high technology invading our homes. With the constant hacking and malware incidents, privacy and cybersecurity will be an important factor in deciding to adopt Smart Home. With that in mind, I embarked on my research to prove my hypothesis.

Methodology

My plan was to conduct 2 rounds of interviews. The initial round of interview consisted of generic questions to gauge the interest and awareness of my interviewees regarding smart homes, while the next round focused on their worries and concerns regarding the system.

The interview questions for both rounds:

  • How do you describe your ideal home?
  • What is your definition of a Smart Home?
  • What is your opinion on Smart Home?
  • Is your home a smart home?
  • Are you aware of any smart home in SG?
  • Do you think smart home is essential in SG?
  • Would you like your home to be a smart home?
  • Are there any other factors that one should think about when opting for Smart Home?
  • There is an increase in usage of smart appliances, are you aware of any?
  • What kind of activities/problems that can be improved/solved with a smart home?
  • Do you have any worries regarding Smart Home?
  • How can those worries be assuaged?

My aim is to know how much do my interviewees know about smart home and its development in Singapore housing landscape. Interestingly, not only they are highly knowledgeable, almost all of them are agreeable and had even enquired to adopt the system for their homes. However, I’m surprised that none of them brought up any issues regarding privacy (until I did) and the possible abuse of personal information. Since my interviewees are coincidentally all males, I suspected that such issue does not concern them.

Do not mock my paranoia, Dylan…You live in the 90s!

To balance my findings, for my next round, I roped in 3 female classmates and one random who happen to be male. To my holybatman! moment, the ladies do not give much of a skittle as well. None of them are highly perturbed by the possibility of cyberhacking as they have faith in the technology and the providers. If not for the high cost, nearly 100% of my respondents would definitely adopt smart home system, despite slight misapprehension. Their earnest trust in the technology makes me ponder if I should consider getting rich by selling the smart system instead and drop this UX course altogether.

My classmates’ incoming new overlord
Raw Data on faux wood background to show how Ms Serious Business I am

Nonetheless, if we look at the data closely, to assume that they slavishly worship the smart home system would be a fallacy. While smart home is helpful and cool, they are not essential and still out of reach. Hence, it’s much easier to idealise the system than to legitimately worry. Why worry when we can’t even afford it yet?

Affinity Mapping

From the raw data, I used affinity mapping to extract a more concise finding.

Grouping them into smaller chunks of information. Patterned background as appetizers to my ugly handwriting.

From the raw data, I grouped the information into 4 main data groups.

Pink: I think the technology is cool but it’s way too expensive for the cost to be justified and the additional maintenance will bring more cost

Orange: I need the technology to be proven, fuss free and comes with easy installation and excellent after sales service support

Blue: I can rely on the technology to take care of every family member’s needs with or without my presence

Green: I can use the remote technology to facilitate household activities but the knowledge of usage has to be easy to adopt and calibrate for every family member.

As I scour through my data, a pertinent pattern appeared. Most interviewees mentioned maintenance of the system. As the system is highly likely to be expensive, it is expected that the system to work efficiently as much and as long as possible. In a home where, appliances are integrated, it will be a nightmare for the system to be malfunction especially in areas such as security and elderly/infant care. Most interviewees question, if providers are able to deliver a satisfactory after sales service and knowledge/training for owners and household members from time to time at a low fee or even possibly free. Hence, I created a problem statement:

Problem & Solution

Problem Statement: I need a maintenance service provider who can provide excellent after sales service and consistent utmost attention on the maintenance of my smart home system.

Solution: The answer to this statement is an app that allows smart home owners to select highly reliable maintenance service providers that does not come with long-term contract, nor locked in any brand’s ecosystem.

Ideally, we will be a platform where third-parties converge to offer maintenance for the smart homes. As we will only accept highly certified vendors, owners can expect only high quality vendors in the platform. Additionally, to allay fears on abuse of personal information, sensitive information will be withheld and only available to FERTIG but not the vendors. Having a network of vendors will ensure customers prompt service when in need in any location of the city at any time.

User Flow & Sketches

In creating this platform, I worked out the user flow:

Sketches for the App

For the design of the app, I used Figma (try it!). I adopted clean and simple design for efficiency and freshness.

Post-Presentation Reflection

After the presentation, I did some reflection. I received responses from ZZ and Wilson that the process of purchase can be streamlined further as users are not aware of the tiered-plan and the prices. My rationale for providing tiered-plan is to simplify the decision-making but I was unaware that some users would think that it’s a more complicated process.

Someone suggested to give a customised option instead. I disagree, because to me, that is making users think more input to the system. Nothing annoys me more than to key in information on online forms. Nonetheless, I agree that there has to be improvement on the purchase process. I would make the plan simpler by removing the Full Home Plan and focus on Smart Individual Appliances and Smart Clusters. Additionally, I would include the price upfront so that customers can compare straightaway.

This is the prototype link: https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/QPBVTTB42#/screens

Thanks for reading. Tell me what you think.