The role of the objects around us and how we interact with them is undergoing a remarkable upheaval ever since the focus has shifted to enhancing Customer Experience for IoT and enabled devices.
By collecting data with the help of smart components and probing it for insights, businesses can take decisions in ways that were hitherto unseen.
These smart components are typically comprised of sensors, microprocessors, niche software, data storage techniques and tailor-made operating systems that work in perfect tandem to achieve the desired outcome that successfully leverages information derived from data.
But while it is crucial for every business to explore IoT services and products, the way in which this is done dictates the extent to which the technology is adapted amongst the populace.
This urgency has given rise to a new phase of user experience altogether, known as Smart User Experience, achieved by enhancing the customer experience in IoT.
Enhancing Customer Experience in IoT
Customer Experience is playing an extremely vital role for connected devices. Smart User Experience is taking the front seat and Smart Technologies are driving this wave forward. Such technologies are always aware of their surroundings and can sense the changes in their circumstances. Based on this analysis, measures can be executed to enhance functionalities accordingly.
Michael Porter, a renowned American academic, pegs this as the ‘third wave of IT-driven competition’, one in which IT and connectivity become an integral part of the smart product.
Smart User Experience via the right interface enables companies to come up with product iterations that continuously drive up the engagement factor and enhance the Customer Experience for IoT.
So if you are planning to give a phenomenal customer experience for IoT products, you need to take a comprehensive look at how you design an IoT device since it will dictate the way in which users interact with your products!
Designing a Product Strategy Centered Around UX
Let’s take a comprehensive look at some crucial insights that will help you in designing smart interfaces with a better user experience.
1. Exercise Clean Designing
What does this mean?
Never introduce a UX based functionality that does not comply with the core values that the product aims to provide.
For example, adding Google Search through a touch screen in a coffee maker might seem like a good idea, but will only act as a distraction.
Instead, an interactive menu that provides quick recipes for different types of coffees would function much better.
Every feature must always be introduced in a way that it takes advantage of the core functionality of the appliance. The idea is to keep the engagement quotient relevant and as unadulterated as possible!
2. Introduce Smart Automation
Designing not only includes the look and feel of the product but how it functions as well. Since IoT-enabled devices come equipped with a number of sensors, they can easily capture loads of data regarding product motion, faces, air moisture, temperature, weather, etc.
The product should be designed in such a way that the device makes optimum use of this data to learn deeply about the user and start taking smart and automated decisions on its own.
For instance, an air conditioning system that can learn the correlation between the weather outside and the preferred temperature of the user. It can then start functioning in an autonomous mode and keep the home temperature optimized. This further enhances the customer experience for IoT devices.
3. Personalize the Interface
Smart interface designing in IoT can be personalized by users according to their preferences takes the game to another level altogether.
Take the instance of the POP Home Switch by Logitech. The switch can be quickly customized by the user to take control of the smart devices in the house by making use of custom recipes. A single click can turn on the TV, while a double click can turn the AC on and lock the door!
On the other hand, products like Augmenta are exploring something quite unique. Augmenta combines Augmented Reality with your body to obtain the desired output functions. After putting on the smart glasses, users hands start functioning as configurable dashboards, keypads, etc. This use case finds implementation in various industries around the world!
4. Think Beyond Screens
As proved by theabove-mentioned examples, a successful strategy for customer experience for IoT thinks beyond the usual interfaces that are based around screens.
A few ways to do this is to leverage the capabilities of sound, gestures and intuitive movements instead of simply designing a screen based user interface. But while you do this, make sure that things are kept as simple as possible.
Your IoT device design should make things simpler and not introduce more complexity into the equation.
At the same time, they should be designed in a way that it involves a minimal amount of training.
Take the case of an interactive IoT powered product known as Knock. The user interface makes use of no screens. Instead, the small wireless device has a simple yet powerful design that converts any ordinary service into a control interface!
All users have to do is knock on the service and the device carries out the user-defined functions on the basis of the number of knocks.
This is an excellent example of a smart interface design done right since it can be quickly grasped by the user and involves no training whatsoever!
5. Have a Broad Perspective
While it is important to design for the appliance, you should also keep in mind the broader picture and think from the perspective of the whole IoT ecosystem.
Understanding how the appliance will fit into this ecosystem is important. Remember that the technological backdrop today is driven through screens and the UI of your IoT device can get easily lost along the way.
Hence, design with the intent of keeping machine-to-machine interaction at the maximum and autonomous behavior at the minimum. Your IoT device should be able to easily integrate with the existing ecosystem, not end up creating one on its own.
This will not only improve the UX score but also help you gather a greater amount of insights.
6. Design for Engagement
With IoT devices, engagement is always the end game.
This is because the more the user interacts with the IoT system, the more data can be collected and the system can optimize itself accordingly to drive maximum results.
At the same time, it is also crucial to place the center of control in the hands of the users. The interface design should make them feel like they run the show.
One of the best ways to do this is by enabling remote user interfaces. This stands well with the core idea of the Internet of Things which aims to have a connected virtual world that can be accessed and controlled anywhere and anytime.
While smartphones and accompanying applications prove to be the driving interfaces for remote access, this also makes management at the user-end a bit clumsy.
A great way out here is to design for scenarios that enable automatic remote access. For example, when you start your car at the end of the workday to leave office for home, the air conditioning system of your house will be automatically triggered to reach an optimum temperature before you get home.
Making the Platform an Experience
If you are aiming for the stars and want to be an IoT platform, it is time to realize what is at stake here.
There are hundreds of IoT platforms that are already in the market, with most of them trying to solve one specific problem or another. This ranges from the spheres of real estate and healthcare to various other industries.
Even dogs have an IoT platform dedicated to them!
However, when the dust settles, the market will be dictated by no more than 2-4 top players. It is similar to what we are seeing in other technological domains like operating systems or smartphones.
Hence, it is crucial that you make your IoT platform (whether you are choosing one in the market of developing one yourself) a memorable experience for your users to drive the maximum amount of engagement or use cases.
A well-thought out and designed platform can end up being the norm of the industry and dictate the future of the Internet of Things design.
Take the case of Amazon who has already introduced a market leading IoT platform for developers to help them connect sensors for multiple applications ranging from automobiles to smart home light systems and even turbines.
How can we achieve this?
The key here is to make the functioning of the platform (or choose a partner platform) as immersive, personalized and simple as possible.
As a platform, it is imperative for you to be as flexible as possible and combine the experience of various devices from an array of companies to capture as much market as possible.
Merely making your product ‘smart’ is not enough today to grab the attention of the user. With cut-throat competition in the market and a new player emerging in every nook and cranny, it is important to carve a unique place for yourself by doing what your competition is not – focusing more on designing smart interfaces and the overall user experience!