Designing Beyond the Interface

With the popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT) continually rising, it goes without saying that technology has gone beyond our smart phones and computers. Now we can depend on our refrigerators to tell us when we’re out of milk, and control our home air conditioning from across the country. It’s crazy, right?

internet of things nest thermostat

As a UI/UX designer, the internet of things has become an interesting topic of conversation. How do we as UX designers create an awesome user experience that translates beyond the interface?

Prior to IoT, a great user experience could be designed by in depth wireframing, beautiful UI, and user testing. Now, our users are looking up from their phones and interacting with technology in their daily routines – a whole new world of experiences.

At Metova, our team was met with this challenge with the design and development of Yale Locks. This amazing company – and long time customer of Metova – approached us with the idea of unlocking doors with a mobile device. In the process, we learned a few tips on designing for IoT, here’s a few:

1.  No one likes an interrupted routine

Your ultimate goal is to enhance the user’s experience. The worst thing a designer can create is something that stalls, or creates a roadblock in your customer’s daily routine. The fewer the clicks or steps you can create for your product flow the better. In fact, if you can remove a few steps from your user’s existing routine – go for it! Everyone’s looking for ways to simplify their lives, and technology should enhance the experience – not complicate it.

Identifying the pain points of a personal experience with the product will help you have a better end product when it comes to launch.

2. Put yourself in their shoes

Think about how you would approach a situation in your own life.

In the example of Yale Locks, who likes to fumble with their keys at the front door? In creating this user experience, our team knew we didn’t want to create a situation comparable to digging for your keys. Our solution was a simple UX of holding your phone to your front door and hearing the bolt unlock. Oh the joy.

It’s also important to consider your demographic. If you’re dealing with a product for kids, consider their limitations and how you can make the experience fun and exciting. Identifying the pain points of a personal experience with the product will help you have a better end product when it comes to launch.

3. The (connectivity) struggle is real

Like any other intimate relationship – There will be days where you and technology will just be “off”. This is expected, but plan for it in your user’s experience. The internet of things is nothing without a network connection, and at times there is little you can do as a designer to make this better. The best thing you can do is make sure your user isn’t totally out of luck. Consider a fallback plan for unexpected connectivity issues.

4. Nothing beats user testing

I can’t say this enough: the best way to see if your product is helpful is to watch a real life user interact with it. When creating a user experience, plan focus groups with non-designery people and hear them out on their dream IoT scenarios. At the end of the day, it’s all about helping people and enriching their lives with better technology – that is the ultimate experience

Metova played a critical role in supporting our vision for the future of digital door locks. Since our initial partnership to create a mobile and web app in 2012, we have expanded our relationship to other efforts and continue to highly recommend Metova’s development team to anyone seeking a development partner. Their personal investment in our success is apparent in the knowledge, passion, and attention to detail team members pay to our collective work each day. We trust Metova’s capabilities in creating and maintaining high-quality software solutions, and they now collaborate with us and our sister companies across several ASSA ABLOY brands and product lines. I consider Metova a true partner.


 – Kevin Kraus, Director Product Management, Yale Residential, ASSA ABLOY USA


Have an IoT project? Let us help!

Kandace Parker
Kandace Parker