Designing future homes: know your audience

Jun 10 · 4 min read

Personas are dead. Think about how much you’ve changed since you first became aware of your home surroundings — I mean properly aware. For argument’s sake, let’s say you were 16. How has your attitude to your home evolved in the intervening years? How has it changed since you moved out of your family home? If you’re lucky enough to own your home, how do your behaviours and choices compare to those when you were renting? If you live with a partner and/or children, how has your landscape changed since they arrived? How have your needs at home around comfort, safety and control adapted in unison with your changing life?

I’m going to take a punt and guess that you’ve changed quite a lot — gradually passing through different phases as your situation, environment and maturity evolved. So how accurate would a static persona be? A stopped clock is right twice a day — a persona might be accurate once in a person’s lifetime.

How to make a mindset

The research project I mentioned in the first of these two articles helped us to shape mindsets that reflected how real people and their choices change over time as their circumstances shift. We set out to define mindsets that would give a more comprehensive understanding of how to design the smart home products and services a diverse range of real people would want to use.

Our mindsets are made up of three key factors that allowed us to build a picture across a range of people and circumstances:

1. Life stage — those with children and those without, which allowed us to account for the changing dynamics that children create.

2. Personality — how a person’s character plays out in their home.

3. Relationship with technology — how willingly and easily a person adopts a new technology.

Digging a little deeper into personality, we saw that people sat on two sides of a scale: those who use their homes as an opportunity to reflect their own personal brand (Showstoppers) and those who prize privacy and comfort above all else (Nestlers).

When it came to their relationship with technology, we saw early adopters who take pride in their ability to use the newest gadgets and systems (Explorers) and those who need to find a real need or value before they’ll commit (Navigators).

These two axes formed the framework for us to build our mindsets.

What’s your mindset?

At the core of our research is the fact that everyone seems to have a different idea of what “home” means, and how their home should relate to the world beyond it. Taking into account personal affinity, outlook, interest, tastes, time, context, age and geography, each individual’s needs for their home vary dramatically.

We found that most people fit within one of eight mindsets:

1. Mr/Ms Ambience uses technology to heighten sensory experiences.

2. Wired-Up Urbanite uses technology for everyday convenience.

3. Conscientious Controller uses technology for efficiency and self-improvement.

4. Chaotic Creative uses technology for convenience but is reluctant to invest.

5. Drone Parent uses technology for safety, efficiency, and convenience.

6. Hip Happening Parent uses technology for fun.

7. Savvy Senior uses technology for luxury.

8. Social Grandparent uses technology for social connections.

The $64,000 question

What does this mean for companies and designers who want to create smart home products and services? In short, this depth and complexity of understanding of their target market is their best shot at being able to design products and services that truly earn customer loyalty through relevance and transparency

For instance, our research dives into complexities and nuances of what home means to each mindset. As an example, some of our respondents said that being surrounded by their personal things like blankets and candles evoked a sense of safety more than security cameras would.

Our findings examine how people’s choices and behaviours evolve as they move through phases of life, and uncover tensions that add an extra layer of comprehension. In relation technology, our respondents didn’t identify technology as being uniquely negative or uniquely positive, it was the tensions they felt that were the most compelling. As an example of this, people expressed that technology made their life easier while also being concerned that it makes them lazy — while others found that while technology made them more connected, it also created an experience of isolation.

If we’re to make progress with smart home products and services, we need to recalibrate product design and marketing strategies, and ideate with clients in a new way. The products and services we strive to create must take into account the complexities of people’s needs and acknowledge and cater to the tensions they experience.

This is the second of a pair of articles. The first: Designing future homes: we’ve got it all wrong.

To read a summary of our report click here

To download the full report, click here.


Written by

Rachel is an Interaction Design Lead at Fjord @ The Dock | Leading design & research teams to help clients drive their customer engagements with human insights.

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A publication for designers, developers and data nerds - from the aspiring to the expert, and anywhere in between. Content created and curated by Fjord, design and innovation from Accenture Interactive.

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