Part 3 of 3 (Design): How to score a touchdown in IoT home product and experience design through thoughtful design

November 08, 2015

In the first two parts of this series, I discussed ways to refine your Internet of Things (IoT) strategy and engineering efforts to gain yardage in the connected home space.

In this last installment, I will offer a few pointers on design – in particular experience design – that will keep you from fumbling and turning over the ball to competitors.


Aim for quick value realization
Whatever problem you’re trying to solve for your customers, ensure they can see the benefit of it within 30 minutes after opening the package (but preferably half that time). This includes both the app download and device connectivity. You’ve likely heard the story of how Apple had the Mac product team meet one simple goal as a final test that the product was ready for shipment — the customer should be able to send an email within X number of minutes after unboxing the product.

Make installation simple
For every step a customer has to take to install your product (insert batteries; plug to an outlet or hub; and especially any use of a screwdriver or wrench), satisfaction and usage will be penalized — exponentially. I’ve spoken with trial customers who returned devices simply because installation was shoddy and frustrating. If time and budget permit, try conducting some ethnographic research to observe how a few consumers interact with your product. Without interfering with their installation, I can guarantee it will be an eye-opening experience that will help you improve your product and process.

Create a robust support system for late adopters
We all know that tech geeks relish the opportunity to find workarounds or fixes, but they are in the minority so make it easy for users to find and read FAQs, watch videos and engage with a customer service rep via chat or phone. It should not be a struggle to get basic questions answered. The last thing you want is a customer returning or stashing away your product simply because they didn’t quite understand some of the instructions — “Oh, I just had to press and hold that button for five seconds?”

If time and budget permit, try conducting some ethnographic research to observe how a few consumers interact with your product.

Capture feedback for continuous improvement
But don’t overload a survey with too many questions at once. An app offers tremendous opportunities to measure customer engagement with your product (how often they use it; which products they’ve installed; what notifications they’ve programmed; etc.), but you should still have a light survey embedded to gather feedback. I’m talking something between the proverbial NPS score and a battery of open-ended questions that will diminish your response rate. Again, keep it simple or spread it out over time if you have to.

Finally, make it delightful (or at least painless)
I was going to use the word fun, but that’s dangerous when you have a product that’s yet to prove itself in the marketplace. The last thing you want is customers thinking you’ve spent more time being cute with your installation monikers than being smart about how smooth you could make their installation journey. The goal is to have customers become your advocates, and that starts with designing a simple and stress-free experience.

I hope these tips will make your product or service more “lean and mean” for the IoT field. The game is still in its infancy and you still have time to score some field goals and touchdowns. Good luck with your journey.