A Blog from Qualitest

The 4 pillars of good IoT user experience

Creating excellent UX in the IoT world can be a challenging job. It’s difficult to be able to cater to users’ needs in a seamless...

Creating excellent UX in the IoT world can be a challenging job. It’s difficult to be able to cater to users’ needs in a seamless way across multiple platforms and contexts and on a variety of scales, from small wristwatches to huge display screens.

This challenge is doubled since it involves not only the online domain but also the interaction with the physical world – and to make sure the experience remains consistent, simple and intuitive.

The right user experience creates value for end users by improving usability, accessibility and interaction. The field is still in its infancy and we’re all learning as we go, but the following four things are the foundation upon which all good IoT user experiences is built.

1. Onboarding is key

Getting people to start using a new system is a vital challenge to tackle. Your users might be put off when they need to login to multiple devices (which also might be different for each device) and trying to understand how devices interact.

To help people onboard, offer low effort authentication with code verification instead of passwords. This will make the user’s life much easier when switching between various devices, while maintaining security.

Another option, if applicable, is allowing the user to authenticate once on a responsive app that will be used to control all other devices (phone, web, watch). This will considerably reduce tech friction for the user and will allow faster adoption.

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2. Connectivity requires consistency

The interface must be clear and remain familiar across devices. The cloud is a great way to keep all relevant instances of the app linked and updated at all times. This allows users to move seamlessly and quickly between devices and systems. This approach must be in place for both the physical and virtual platforms with an intuitive interface.

A good example of how different platforms are engaged by the user while keeping the interface that the user is accustomed to is Spotify. Their platform remains consistently familiar on their mobile and desktop app, as well as Apple CarPlay and Amazon Echo.

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3. Make it personal

Personalisation is a key driver of customer experience (and usage) and it’s been given a considerable push from digital technology, with websites showing tailored content based on preferences and history, marketing emails that use user data to push specific messages and apps that connect to other apps, geo-location and other points of data to offer a more relevant and accurate service.

IoT can and should use all the considerable data it can across the range of devices and systems to create “personalisation synergy” that will make the user experience much more encompassing and effective.

The future of personalisation lies in artificial intelligence, which can provide more in-depth and insightful recommendations and experiences based on big data. An AI system can be much more flexible and cater to many more variables that simple automated systems simply cannot; it can learn from interactions based on a massive pool of data points and countless factors to adapt itself according to the user response and behaviour.

It is speculated that by 2025 the vast majority of user interactions will be aided by artificial intelligence and overall user experience will be mostly determined by it. This will enable businesses, through these highly customised experiences, to save time and money while offering valued personal recommendations to their customers.

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4. Cultivate Trust

Trust is a main ingredient in creating a positive user experience. When your product is transparent and provides all the information in a simple way; when users are able to understand why the app or device functions the way it does, it helps them to feel that they are in control, which builds confidence.

IoT can be anything from home systems, streaming services or connected cars. Basically, anything that has an app which allows you to control something from a distance. This means that it is crucial to identify who are the people that will use your device, application or website and understand their needs, motivations, values, and goals for interaction with it. There will be many types of personas using each application, which are likely to have different characteristics.

If the user feels like the product is all about them and their needs, it will help create the trust between the user, the product and the brand.

A good example of this is American pharmacy chain Walgreens. The company has bridged the online and offline shopping experience of their customers. As customers enter one of their stores, their mobile app changes automatically to in-store mode, which emphasises features that are more relevant to an offline shopping experience, such as store information and layout, voucher codes and loyalty points.

Beacons are also used within the store to send push notifications via the app to inform customers of product offers based on the displays they’re standing nearby, as well as their buying preferences.
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By adhering to these four principals, you can get closer to creating a better experience for your users that is more pleasant, intuitive and valuable.

A good user experience will drive your users to use your apps and devices more often and more effectively, which will build a stronger connection and loyalty between them and your business and products.