5 Steps to Great IoT User Experience

IoT UX design presents a real challenge that goes beyond hamburger menus, shorter online forms and bold type. By the end of 2017, there will be 8.4 billion connected devices in use. Say goodbye to standard screens; from now on, design enters a new three-dimensional world! Follow these tips to succeed in the competitive IoT market and encourage users to purchase your product.

Insight into IoT UX design best practices

· Provide the ultimate user experience. As general as it sounds, the Internet of Things’ user experience design principles still revolve around usability, accessibility, utility and desirability. It means that your connected product, be it an enterprise-level telematics solution or wearable heart-rate monitor, should offer a new level of convenience to consumers regardless of their physical ability, satisfy user needs and keep them coming back. There are several factors that affect the Internet of Things’ user experience, including high power consumption (which shortens a gadget’s battery life), the lack of a display (Amazon has only enhanced Echo with a display earlier this year, while Alexa-powered Triby came out with a display straight away), the accuracy of sensor data and device interoperability — and these issues should be addressed during the Proof of Concept stage. Software development companies that major in IoT hardware/applocation development create prototypes using off-the-shelf boards like Raspberry PI, Arduino and BeagleBoard and write small parts of mobile apps and embedded systems simulating the gadget’s functionality to determine the right tech stack and optimum feature set for a connected solution. Provided you conduct proper research, build an MVP, gather user feedback and make the necessary changes to the scope before the gadget goes into production, you’ll be able to deliver the ultimate user experience and achieve commercial success;

· Do not take Internet connectivity for granted. Although the key idea behind every IoT project is to connect either consumer electronics or initially dumb objects to the Internet and enable “things” to exchange data over a network, a smart device should perform basic functions even in an offline mode. IoT entrepreneurs should perhaps take a few lessons from mobile app developers who craft software that caches data and stores it locally — after all, most connected gadgets rely on BLE connections;

· Leave room for improvement. IoT manufacturing equipment, self-driving vehicles and smart refrigerators have longer lifespans that darn-cheap fitness trackers, connected water bottles and even smartphones. Back in 2007 no one could’ve guessed there would be an app for everything today. Similarly, IoT gadgets expand their feature set and get smarter over time. Enhanced with the facial recognition and machine learning algorithms, Home Automation solutions can now recognize users and adjust settings (including thermostat temperature and TV channels) according to their preferences. In ten or even five years Samsung’s Family Hub (which costs as much as $ 3 thousand) will become hopelessly outdated. In order to keep up with technological advancements, you should roll out firmware updates on a regular basis, bringing new functions to the table. Firmware upgrades will also help you protect connected solutions from hacker attacks. As of now, only 31% of IoT consumers install the latest firmware short after it becomes available, citing the complexity of the upgrade process as the key obstacle to keeping connected solutions secure;

· Keep interoperability in mind. Without open-source APIs, reliable device management platforms and unified communication protocols (ZigBee says hi), IoT is just a bunch of objects connected to the Cloud and mobile apps. What we need is the global interconnected environment where products created by different vendors interact with each other. Luckily for IoT vendors, IT behemoths like Amazon and IBM now make their IoT APIs public. Create an IoT solution that supports other connected gadgets — and you’ll significantly increase your chances of success;

· Embrace accessibility. The Internet of Things can potentially remove the barriers people with special needs face on a daily basis. Even the simplest thing like finding a vacant parking spot or putting down the blinds may present a difficulty to physically impaired users. That’s why forward-thinking vendors enhance their connected solutions with the voice recognition and even eye-tracking technologies, thus raising the quality of life for special consumers (who comprise a massive and largely underdeveloped market of over 56 million people in the USA alone).

The road to IoT success lies through research and prototyping. According to Pavel Shylenok, CTO at R-Style Lab (you can check his profile at r-stylelab.com), it will take you twice as much time and effort to overhaul an IoT product’s UX design than to make the necessary changes to the scope at the early stages of the dev process.

Despite the growing adoption of IoT solutions, the Internet of Things remains a novelty concept; recent studies prove 75% of IoT projects come to a standstill or fail to meet business objectives because of technology limitations, the lack of cooperation between IT and business departments and insufficient research funds. Provided you focus on IoT user experience, choose the right tech stack and develop a monetization strategy early on, you’ll definitely join the list of IoT winners.

Content marketer. Tech blogger. Passionate reader. Yoga amateur. Cat dad.

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Andrei Klubnikin

Andrei Klubnikin

Content marketer. Tech blogger. Passionate reader. Yoga amateur. Cat dad.

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