At the turn of the decade, the Internet of Things was still a largely conceptual and primordial entity. Nonetheless, experts in the tech sector were generally in consensus that the IoT would become a global force in the very near future.
Today, there are now an astounding 22.9 billion connected devices integrated into the network of the IoT—and the trend is unlikely to slow any time soon. In fact, by 2020 it is estimated that there will be over 50 billion IoT-enabled devices in use around the world.
The tremendous growth of the IoT in recent years demonstrates that there is clear value and demand for connected technology, but a number of questions are still largely unanswered. For instance, there have yet to be a set of clearly defined best practices for creating a superior user experience for IoT-enabled devices.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to determine what makes for a great IoT user experience. Consider the following tips when developing your organization’s relationship with the Internet of Things.
Creating added value
Most people get along well enough with their standard refrigerator. So how is it that companies can now justify selling smart refrigerators for thousands of dollars? It isn’t because you can play Pandora on the tablet embedded in the front of the fridge. The true value is inside the fridge, where cameras and smart sensors combine to enable your fridge to alert you when food is about to spoil and when you need to make a new purchase. Taking a smarter approach to food waste actually has the potential to save consumers thousands of dollars a year, helping to justify the sticker price and providing a convenient, valuable experience.
Design with new platforms in mind
For several years, IoT devices looked a lot like extensions of the smartphones that consumers are already acquainted with. But over the past year, virtual assistants have overtaken more traditional IoT devices, bringing with them an entirely new set of challenges. If your organization is developing an IoT strategy, you’d be wise to take this shift into consideration. You’ll need to lean more heavily on automation and machine learning, unlike more tactile devices, in order to make sure your new project is compatible, convenient and functional.
Simplicity is more important than ever
The interconnecting of billions of devices can produce incredible opportunities for new communications capabilities and data collection that can augment user experience. But users don’t necessarily want to see how the sausage gets made. It is imperative that your users don’t get bogged down with the immensity of the IoT, so don’t feel that you must provide every possible feature at once. Keep your design simple, but allow for personalization so that individuals can get more out of their experience if they choose.
It’s not just about your product
Even the best, most efficient and functional products with the most amazing marketing and customer acquisition plans can fail – in fact, it happens all the time. Sometimes this happens during a product’s very first use. This is because companies forget to consider what will happen when a new customer actually tries your product for the first time. They forget that customers won’t understand your product as well as you do, or the engineers that built it. They forget that most customers rarely read instruction manuals. All that a frustrated customer needs to do is return the product for all that engineering, marketing, and media spend to be for naught. Thus, it’s critically important to invest in user and product research before you launch something to make your customers’ first experiences with the product (i.e. the “unboxing experience,” initial setup, pairing processes) are the best they can possibly be.