UX Case Study on Smart Home App

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Haven is a smart home app that aims to integrate monitoring and controlling of smart home appliances from a single app. It provides a more efficient way of managing member accounts and to control devices seamlessly. Haven is designed keeping the end user in mind and maximum effort has been

Problem Statement

Smart home residents tend to own multiple smart devices and want them to work together under a single app. They also want an option where devices could be scheduled to run by the user and be automated accordingly. An another feature most of them desired was sharing the access of devices and to have admin control over them.

Hypothesis

There is a need to design an experience where user could add all his smart appliances and have seamless control over them under a single app. Creating of routines or automating devices can lead to better home automation and a more satisfactory experience. Sharing access of devices to guests and other family
members will prove more usable and convenient to the user.

Design Process

Discover Phase

Cross Channels

  • IOS
  • Android
  • Mac OS
  • Windows
  • SMS
  • Email
  • Smart Watches

General Tasks

  • Login to the app
  • View Weather Power Consumption
  • View Routines
  • Create custom routines
  • View Rooms Devices
  • Control individual Device
  • View Notifications
  • View Members list
  • Add / Remove Members
  • Give device access to Members

Critical Success Factors

  • Reduce Cognitive load
  • Easy connectivity of smart devices with the app
  • Ability of user to control devices remotely
  • Creation of custom device automations
  • A secure feature to share access of devices among members

Target Audience

  • Nuclear Families
  • Bachelors
  • Metropolitian Cities
  • Middle Upper Class SES
  • Apartments gated communities
  • Paying guest accomodations

User Research

Surveys

I created a survey to understand what smart home users wanted from a basic  level to the most expected features by them. I got 18 responses from various smart home users.

Survey Insights

The survey revealed that a large majority of the sample users in India are single males of ages 25 - 34 years, residing in Bangalore and living in apartments or gated communities. The primary reason for home automation was found to be security and time convenience. Security alert features included safety hazard
solutions such as appliances switched off, smoke alarms and motion detectors. The most important feature for users was to have remote access and control of home appliances.

Through this survey, it can be concluded that security and remote access  seemed to be the major motivators of users to buy and smart appliances and there is a need to integrate these features into smart home apps.

Define Phase

User Personas

Personas are descriptions of particular hypothetical users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users.

Empathy Mapping

Empathy maps illustrate what users might hear , see, say , do, think and feel in their surroundings. It helps provide structure to help express ideas and information to others. The empathy map below was created on the persona of Giselle Parker.

 

Ideate Phase

Scenarios

Scenarios storyboard are methods that use stories on examples of use of app / website in real time basis using a hypothetical situation. They are written illustrate narratives, created based on survey , data points, interviews, personas empathy maps.

The Scenario Storyboard created here are based on data collected from the survey and from the personas created.

Scenario

Joel is a photographer and often travels to distant places for work. In morning rush, at times he forgets to switch off some appliances causing rise in electricity bill as well as increasing chances of electrical mishap.

One morning on way to work, Joel realises that he might have left the A/C  on. He was already in his bus and could not travel back home to switch it off.

Using HAVEN, Joel can monitor which appliances are running. He can from a remote place turn any appliances ON/OFF saving cost of electricity and improving the life of the appliance.

He receives an alert notification from the HAVEN app. On seeing the status of the A/C he quickly updates the status and switches off the device saving electricity and preventing any electrical mishap.

 

Card Sorting

The Card Sorting activity helps to design, categorise and evaluate information. This is a method in which the designer asks a group of SMEs or users to arrange items intocategories. The Open Card Sorting technique was used with 2 people to help understand the user flow process

User Flow

User flow falls in the solution space of the UX process. It illuminates the path that users would take in order to complete a task or navigate through the app. The user flow was developed based on the user research results, user personas,empathy map and scenarios.

Information Architecture

Information Architecture is the design structure developed based on the user flow and card sorting technique and is later used to generate wireframes for the app or website.

Design Phase

Low Fidelity Wireframes

 

High Fidelity Wireframes

Testing Phase

Usability Testing

A preliminary Usability Testing was conducted to obtain valuable insights into the working of the HAVEN App. A group of people took turns in being either the user, researcher or observer while the testing was being conducted to gain a better understanding of the process. The user was given the task of signing up, adding a new device, adding a member and creating a new routine.

The observations and feedback were noted down, where the user stated that the app was easy to navigate with a simple and easy to use UI. Only minor struggles were found by the user and they were noted down to further improve the App interface.

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