Every project is different and similar at the same time. This project was no different. The addition of a third party app developer, working in a waterfall product development style, was challenging. Conveying the need to be flexible, patient and to remove features not validated in testing was tricky.
Additionally, Apple’s HomeKit was announced half way through the project and required Siri to be integrated as a control of the lock as a business requirement.
A Research Planning Workshop was the first step in getting the on the same page about what we wanted to learn about our locks, Bluetooth Locks, and who the target audience was.
We needed to answer several questions that would make the study successful;
- Why and how do consumers currently use their electronic locks?
- How do consumers share the use of their lock/s with others?
- What do consumers like and/or dislike about a keypad vs. no keypad?
- What features of the locks are most often used, which are not used?
- How do (or would) people use an iPhone app with their lock?
- How does keyless access make people feel?
- Would consumers change how they interact with their lock & app? If so,
To answer these question, it was determined to conduct 8 in-home lock installations observations, including 5 Schlage locks and 3 Kevo locks (Schlage’s major competitor). In addition, 14 individual video diary studies were conducted over the course of 7 days .
The value of the research was to under to understand why people may need a smart lock and app in their lives, what they do and don’t understand about them, what they find difficult about them, and how they might use it.
The client could then take our findings to help:
- Position themselves as smart lock market leaders
- Attract a new, savvier, design-focused demographic
- Understand the value of existing hardware, apps & BLE technology
- Provide a higher-value app and product
The challenges in designing the native iOS app and getting the lock ready for distribution were
- The introduction of Apple’s HomeKit after we had made significant progress in research and design.
- Working with a third party developer with their own set of requirements including wireframes.
- Utilizing a smart phone as a second solution to a keyless entry where the user did not have to have a phone in hand
It’s not enough that an application is easy to use. It wouldn’t matter if our app was easy to use if it wasn’t what people wanted. Conversely, if the app did what people wanted but they were not able to make it work because the app was too hard to use, there would be a problem.
To understand both usability and utility the team conducted three rounds of testing with more than 2o people to understand
- how easy is it for people to accomplish tasks
- how efficiently do people complete those tasks
- do users easily remember how to complete tasks after a period of time
- how many and how severe are errors made and how quickly do they recover
- how satisfied are people using the design
After three rounds, we worked out the kinks with Apples, HomeKit, had a successful UX review of our app with Apple, and were confident that the app was easy to use and provided the features people would need.