Five Rules to designing User Interface and User Experience for IoT based Application
Have you ever imagined a day when devices would simplify your life by completing your daily chores? If you haven’t thought about it, then you must think now. We have been seeing technologies penetrating our homes and offices with an explosion of the Internet of Things aka IoT devices. The day is not far when they would order your food, do shopping for you, book a cab, monitor your health and perform many other actions of our day-to-day functioning.
Design Is the most critical aspect of delivering an excellent customer experience. And, to rule the roost, designers must get creative with the development of User Interface and User Experience (UI and UX) for IoT based applications. As per a research conducted by Gartner, a typical family will have an approximate 500 connected devices and Ericsson forecasts that “there will be 50 billion connected devices” by the year 2020 in home automation systems.
While it is a fact that connected products are conceptually more difficult to design than the non-connected ones, designing a great IoT product is a challenge. Not unless you follow these five simple rules.
1. Understand user roles and Application utilization:
The Internet of Things connects different sensors devices that use various technologies and connect you to a single platform to get a bird’s eye view of the whole environment and its functioning. It is a given that the system will have plenty of users. You will need to map individual user roles and responsibilities to create a seamless design.
Let’s take the example of a corporate client dealing in Telecom industry. You are building an IoT based Digital Experience Platform for them and need to create the whole system from a scratch as the legacy system does not have an interface or an application for you to begin the design phase. Your users can be from any background like:
Security and Surveillance Staff
IT and Network Technicians
Mobile Operators and Tower Staff
HR Managers and Recruitment Executives
Cleaners and Admin Staff
Server Engineers and IT Development Staff
Board Members and Senior Managers
Now, each of these categories of employees has different roles and responsibilities that they need to fulfill. Some may require a top-level view of the operations and some require a deeper understanding of network usage, some require internet access, and some require support to function. Each business model has its own trick up its sleeves to put you off the path of a great experience design.
Displaying information about a system crash to an HR person and Trainees using the internet to browse videos to corporate executives is a recipe for disaster. Designing a system for each of them can be tricky and complex. So, understanding how and when each user will utilize the system becomes imperative.
2. Keep Functional Elements as per User Requirements:
Single user dashboards and administrative panels follow best UC design practices of a mobile app which are designed to show statistics and few other numbers for management. IoT systems are completely different; they are designed keeping in mind the overall functionality of all the users and features within an organization. So, they should be seamless and simple for users to grasp when checking their dashboards, even if they are from disparate backgrounds.
Now, let’s consider a typical Sales manager trying to view reports in real-time and he must go through various screens before getting to the reports he wants to see, is very bad user experience. A UI and UX consultant need to consider such scenarios and determine which screen, snippet or statistic snapshot will be shown on the user dashboard for great interaction design and user experience.
3. Keep Design Consistency
UX also needs to define certain style consistency that will remain as the primary theme for the design of the whole user interface (UI). It should be kept in the same family of design elements so that while moving from one module to other and users don’t feel ‘Oh! Where am I? Is it the same application? Where did it come from?’
A Marketing Manager needs to see her To-Do list each morning, if she gets promoted to a VP’s role, her daily routine does not change. So, even if the person’s role changes and the functional tasks change their UI should remain similar with like:
Navigation and more
Sales, HR, and Engineers will use the same system but for different roles in real world scenarios. So, it is imperative for the IoT application to keep the basic styles similar. Finding user patterns is also important and you are advised to arrange cards, tables, graphs, and sub-pages with similar thematic experience. So, even if the role, designation, and department of stakeholder changes, they would be able to navigate through a mobile application with ease. That’s what makes it a great experience for users of IoT solutions.
4. Cross-device Platform Compatibility:
The application’s layout should work with every device. They should also be scalable, and their designs should be interactive. It should be responsive to all the screen sizes like laptops, tablets, phablets, mobiles and even wearable devices.
UX and UI designer will also need to consider different types of users, their liking and purpose of usage for the platform. He should also consider placements of each element where all the important information is visible at the first glance.
The design should be an ‘Eye Candy’. It should look and feel good. IoT workflow can be complex and can be challenging for users to master their utilization. UX design for IoT product should be seamless and integration of various features, elements and buttons should be harmonious with the functionality of the application.
If an operation manager logs into the system, they would love to see the summary of last day’s performance and their task list for the day. Moreover, placing too many components within the center area will make it difficult for them to spot important things and put them off permanently. So, the design should have those elements placed within the center where a user can spot them easily.
Users should be able to find the command buttons, reports, and other important features easily. So, the screen and layout should not be cluttered. It should integrate diverse independent components to provide a great experience to users as soon as they log in.
Designing a great user interaction for greater engagement is a continuous and never-ending process. IoT products are conceptually very difficult and complex since it involves all the connected devices and users across the whole organization. The role of UI and UX consultants become vital for the IoT based product to succeed and evolve with increasing interactions. Connect with us if you are looking for experienced UI/ UX Consultants for your enterprise software development projects.
This blog has been written by our UX Consultant Milan Nayak
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