The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the hottest topics in the tech world today. The ability to connect everyday objects to the internet and control them with an application or your voice is a true game-changer for end users. With all the connectedness though, there are new challenges that have emerged for the mobile devices that bind this all together. Mobile applications have become a must-have requirement for interacting with the Internet of Things and the mobile users have even higher expectations on their experience than ever before.
Higher Expectations for Mobile IoT Applications
Mobile users, whether IoT enabled or not, have certain expectations from applications that they are interacting with. Consumers expect that the applications they use will
- Be accessible
- Provide exceptional personalized experiences
- Provide real-time information
- Be simple and intuitive
- Have standard gestures that they are used to
Mobile users are far different than the traditional users of web and desktop applications. With desktop or web, you have a strong internet connection that typically doesn’t falter, but with IoT applications, the devices themselves may not have the ability to remain “connected” and synced in fear of less battery life. This is where UX or User Experience comes in.
What is UX Design?
User experience (UX) design is the process involved in designing an application that empowers users with a positive experience during their interaction with the product. It is about creating connections and consistency that drives further use. It is a difficult endeavor for anyone building IoT products.
Common Challenges for Iot Mobile Apps
While IoT brings convenience and efficiency to all our lives, the challenges it brings when designing mobile apps that give users consistency and are optimized towards user interaction can be easily overwhelming.
A few of the challenges you face include:
- The impact on hardware
Check out the webinar replay below to see what you need to consider when building Mobile IoT applications with user experience in mind!
If you missed the additional resources page, here are the titles of the books that I mentioned:
- Designing Connected Products: UX for the Consumer Internet of Things by Claire Rowland, Elizabeth Goodman, Martin Charlier, Ann Light and Alfred Lui
- The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
Follow-up Questions from the Webinar
During the Q&A session, I was asked several questions and wanted to provide a few responses or clarification to some of them.
In order to explore IoT what kind of devices do you suggest testing with?
That is really up to you and what your interests are. In RAD Studio, we provide some components that are easily available for purchase and we provide sample applications for them that you can test out and integrate into your own applications.
What is the future of IoT?
This is a very loaded question but I would say that IoT is going to evolve to the demands of the consumers. It will change the way we think about security, users, capabilities and beyond, but overall, the integration is already ingrained in the consumer space and products, services and devices will match to those adjusting requirements.
Is it better to have specialized screens or better to use the same screen everywhere?
If I am understanding the question correctly, it depends on the research conducted about your users and what your app functionality provides. The difficulty with stating one or the other is that UX is dependent upon what your users feel for the purpose of the application/product that you are building.
A couple of years ago, I was at a seminar about mobile UX design and they were saying that it's more important that the app looks great the features come second and at a minimum to keep it simple. Something like that is quite hard to grasp for software developers who want some technical masterpiece. Is this still the trend?
There is something to be said about simplicity. From my experience, users want the application to be able to perform how it would if they were on the website but don’t expect the same layout and design. It should be intuitive for them to get started and that can require some changes to the technical side. A minimalistic design declutters the UI and allows users to focus on what you want them to, removing elements that may cause errors or decrease speed in the completion of their tasks. That doesn’t mean you can’t have the technical masterpiece behind the scenes in your application code, it just means picking and choosing what functionality is important and perfecting that piece for the users.
You've said that some features like "zoom" is crucial for some apps, and I agree, but almost none of the bigger apps don't have any zooming function. Like LinkedIn or WhatsApp, etc. They don't support zooming or coloring customization or whatever. How come they don't build such features? if they are crucial?
The design style you choose for your applications is largely based on how your users will interact with it and what the expectations are for functionality. The may have deemed that the “zoom” capability wasn’t something that users would find a reason to use. They choose to use the same coloring scheme as their website, so perhaps they decided to use the same design and icons as it provides the consistency that users would expect from the website to the mobile app or even just as a comfort. If they changed the design to purple or burnt orange, would it change the way you feel about what you would expect from LinkedIn or some other site? While colorful and frameless designs are the trend now, there are
I didn't see a lot of discussion about data, either content or structure. Perhaps I overestimate the importance of data. Shouldn't data be a major consideration when designing UX?
Data is definitely a major concern when discussing the functionality of an application. Connectivity to data at any time is important to any user whether they are online or not. Especially offline. In regards to the lack of dedication to the discussion on data in this webinar, I wanted to provide a baseline for what you need to keep in mind, data is definitely not something to be overestimated (data is the most important to me!).