SUMMARY AND CHALLENGE
Oomi is a smart home system that uses the Oomi cube as a central device, allowing users to connect multiple home devices and accessories. With this system you have the ability to: monitor your home, control your tv, lights, electronics as well as connect other third party devices.
As a team of three we were challenged with improving the experience of using the touch pad's device control widgets. Each appliance connected to Oomi has a corresponding widget on the interface used to control it. We were tasked with finding out what information or functions the widgets should have and how they would all work on the interface together in a cohesive manner.
Our team picked up where the previous UX team left off. They focused on the users "out of box" experience through setup and first use. We sorted through previous research and after some discussion we decided to start with looking into how people currently live in their homes.
We started by looking into individual smart home devices and what features they offered. How were they controlled (by phone, voice, third party device)? Are they compatible with any other smart home systems? What controls did you have access to via "remote"? What was the overall customer rating, the likes and dislikes?
Phillips Hue controls all philips hue light bulbs via the app and gives a wide range of options. The biggest feature is the color options available and the ability to choose a color palette.
Roku app can turn into an actual remote to control the Roku device from your phone. While Sonos speakers are also controlled solely via the phone app.
Kevo settings live in the phone app and you need to have the phone or Kevo fob on you in order to use the lock.
Conducting further analysis we looked into other complete smart home systems. We wanted to see what and how many devices were available to connect. Did they allow third party connection? if so what were those options? How were users able to control the devices throughout their home? Finally What was the success rate of these systems?
Samsung SmartThings uses a single hub to control a variety of compatible devices via the SmartThings app. Samsung received a low rating from users, due to the app and devices becoming glitchy when to many are connected.
Belkin Wemo uses your home network to create its own Wemo network that is all controlled via the Wemo app. Through this network you can connect Wemo home devices. Apple HomeKit also connects with a variety of HomeKit compatible devices and is controlled via your Iphone. You can also share device controls with other members of the household.
We conducted 7 interviews with individuals that were all home or condo owners. Our intentions were to find out how people lived in their home, what devices they used regularly and how they interacted with their home on a daily basis. This would help us evaluate and build the users mental model.
We decided to narrow our scope and focus on three main points, throughout the interview process:
We began by focusing on the users daily routine. What home devices did they interact with regularly? How many times a day and for what specific reasons? Having users close their eyes and walk us through their routine, we were able to decipher what specific controls were necessary and helpful.
Smart Home Technology
We asked about the users knowledge and opinion of smart home technology. We wanted to know what household devices they would want to control and why. We also asked about their opinion on smart home technology did they trust it? Why or why not?
Devices and Controls
We wanted to know what devices people used, and how they controlled them. Did they already have smart home devices? We focused on what controls users had over their household devices, and to what extent that control was. Where they interested in gaining further control?
Unable to use the actual Oomi touch during our interviews we still wanted to evoke a realistic conversation and allow interviewee's to speak to something tangible. For us to do that we each drew up very rough mock ups of what the home screen could potentially look like. We wanted to show a variety of organizational options to gain insight and feedback.
These are the rough sketched screens:
After interviews we worked through our transcripts and pulled out important points made by users. Through affinity mapping we organized and color coded insights to begin in depth interpretation.
Here we found some major common concerns and expectations across the board:
1. Smart home is seen for efficiency, then as luxury: Users saw smart home technology as necessary for increased energy efficiency. Beyond energy efficiency, smart home features are largely seen as a luxury and many times not justified by the cost.
2. Customization of smart home technology: Users want the devices within their home to do what they want, when and how they want it. They all wanted to be able to control through existing devices. All of our users stated they wanted to control their home from their smart phone.
3. Incremental upgrades: Most users were not interested in completely outfitting their entire homes in smart home technology. Rather they are interested in identifying needs and filling them incrementally.
4. Compatibility: Users expressed strong frustrations in the fact smart home technologies do not integrate with one another. This led to them being cautious to adopt smart home technology because there is no “established” brand or technology.
5. Abundant or redundant: Users are spending most of their time in one or two rooms of their home. Control over the devices in those rooms is a higher priority. Control over all other devices in the home is highly desirable but mostly when leaving and returning home.
Working off our established key insights we developed five design principles to assist in building our users mental model of how the Oomi touch pad should function. We focused on the users needs as well as looking at the capability of Oomi to reach those needs.
The first two where to target the users needs.
The last three were to help establish and build Oomi's reputation as a complete smart home system.
I created two interface concepts, I wanted to focus not only on the organization but the amount of information provided to the user within the widget. Each device had a lot of possible controls and I was interested in seeing which controls were most important and how many controls users wanted on a single widget. (annotated below)
- Organization by rooms. Each room has its own widget showing the devices located in that room.
- Here I was focused on very simple controls within the specific room widgets. I wanted to see if users wanted more control.
- Menu based organization. The menu on the side bar changes the interface to show further information about the connected devices.
- I intentionally filled the light widget with lots of information. I included all of the possible controls to see how users reacted to the abundance of functions and if they felt it was necessary.
INSIGHTS FROM CONCEPT TESTING
1. Simplicity: Users liked the simple on/off widgets, they were easy to use and didn't make things complicated. The light widget had way to much information. It was cluttered and users didn't know what they needed to do or what all the functions meant.
2. Full control over all devices: Users wanted to be able to control all the main functions of devices but hide the rest. They wanted quick and easy access to their household devices through a clean and simple layout.
3. Customization: The biggest takeaway was that users wanted to customize their screen and layout. To be able to pick and choose what and where the widgets were located according to their own preferences.
My team and I met with Oomi to discuss all of our research and insights up to this point. Since Oomi had already delivered the smart home device into users hands they really wanted to make sure the widgets on those devices were functional and tactical. We discussed with Oomi and made the decision to pivot our work in order to align with Oomi's expectations. Moving forward I focused on the redesign of specifically the widgets. While I was doing this another team member focused their time on the overall interface/organization of the touch pad as a solution. During our research we found that the organization and the widgets worked together and even though we were tasked with looking into widgets specifically we felt it was still important to pursue the layout as a whole.
I explored several different ways to provide users with clean, simple and organized widgets. Fitting a lot of information on a small widget was difficult so I tried to explore ways to show as much information as possible. (annotated below)
Minimum functions that needed to be included were:
- Displayed energy level
- Number of devices per widget
- Small and simple. users didn't want clutter, they wanted fast, simple and actionable controls.
- Sliders used for choosing color or brightness were favored.
- Energy levels were best understood as one colored leaf.
- Did not like the modal. Users felt as if they were being taken out of control from the widget and they also didn't want to have to exit the modal in order to regain use.
One final iteration based on the wireframe testing I went back and combined all of the features I had received possitive feedback on. Creating final wireframes for delivery.
Final changes I made due to usability testing:
- Added a small number to the top right corner to indicate the number of devices connected to that specific widget.
- Power bar at the bottom of the closed widget showing green for on and red for off.
- Tap and hold to release a drop down drawer with further device control.
- Within the drawer you can swipe the screen left or right to see which specific device you are controlling (in the event you have multiple lights connected to the same widget you can swipe through to find the light you need).
- All information is located within the drawer to control the device within the widget.
Working with a client for the first time I realized how important it is to make sure you stay aligned, listen and provide the best solution possible. I learned that sometimes you have to switch gears in order to meet your clients needs and that doesn't have to be a bad thing.
When we had to pivot our direction we were still able to explore several solutions which was a great learning experience because even though the team worked on separate solutions we had to make sure they worked together. When handed over our final deliverables Oomi was happy, however they showed a lot of interest in our over all interface solutions. That was a great feeling to know that even though it wasn't what they wanted we were able to make them understand and consider what we were working towards.