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UX Considerations for Wearable Technology: Where will the Apple Watch fit into your customer’s world?

With the Apple Watch launch on the horizon, the world is preparing for another technical revolution. So, what’s your strategy for wearables? While we’re still in early days of wearable technology, it’s never too soon to develop your strategy for new and exciting platforms.

Even if consumer technology isn’t your thing, it’s really important to push the envelope and look at the verge of technology from time to time. Did you miss out on mobile? Did you feel a little left behind? You’re definitely not alone. Many came late to the mobile party and are still playing catch up. And while wearables might not be the next mobile and possibly teetering on being a buzzword, let’s consider how to fit wearable technology into your existing portfolio with some User Experience (UX) considerations at the forefront.

Design for your users… especially when considering new technology.

Unlike with the iPhone, Apple is opening third party development for the Apple Watch out of the gate. We can design for it today, but as a UX Designer, my users come first. So before we start cranking out wireframes and mockups, let’s look at wearables with a user-centered approach… that’s just fancy UX talk for putting your customers and their needs first.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

1) User Adoption – Will your customers adopt the device?

First and foremost, you need to evaluate your customers and understand their needs. When Google Glass was first announced for pre-order, not everyone was signing up for the explorer program at $1,500. If your user base is sporting an iPhone 3GS and a tube projector TV, maybe you don’t need to design a Google Glass Application for them just yet, or ever.

While designing for new technology is something I personally enjoy and you might be eager to get on the ground floor, it really needs to make sense for both your customers and your business.  If your customer base is typically a slow adopter of new devices, it may better serve you to take a wait and see approach. That would also allow you to see what best practices start to emerge.

2) User Interaction – How will your customers use the device?

Okay, so your customers are all over the Samsung Gear Fit, but you sell handmade rustic furniture.  Maybe we don’t need to start designing a native application just yet.

If your product line does align with the technology, when and how are your customer’s using the device?

Some examples of questions to consider:

  • Are they wearing it all day (e.g., FitBit)? Or night (e.g., Sense, a sleep monitoring device)?
  • Is it only used during specific activities (e.g., Athos)? If so, what activities will they be doing with it?
  • Is it a standalone device (e.g., Basis Watch)?
  • Is it a secondary device or attachment that is designed to connect to their phones (e.g., Apple Watch or a Samsung Gear Live)?

The objective is to find opportunities for the user to naturally interact with your brand on the new device.  Yes, we don’t know how all of these upcoming devices will be used by various demographics. But thinking through activities and testing those assumptions with low fidelity prototypes will go a long way.

3) User Objectives – What are your customer’s goals with the device?

As with device interaction, it’s important to think through what your customer is looking to accomplish while using a particular device. While a purchase might not the primary objective on a smart watch, there might still be engagement opportunities that could naturally align with your product line; something like reminders, flash deals, games or challenges for example. Ultimately, we’re looking for synergies between the device, your brand and your customer’s goals.

There’s always a lot to account for when considering any new technology for your business. Design and development takes time and resources. There’s definitely a price for innovation, but a bigger one for failing to innovate. I urge you to challenge yourself and your team to find creative uses for wearable technology and other new technologies. Opportunities may not be obvious but neither was leveraging 3D printing for medical purposes. Put your user’s needs on the table and find a way to meet them with these exciting new platforms.

Amplifi is an information management consultancy that helps the world’s leading brands, retailers, and manufacturers to harness and unleash the power of their #1 asset… THEIR DATA.