We will be yet again entering a new era of design thinking with the highly anticipated release of the Apple Watch. But what does this mean for product designers like you and I? How will this change the way we think about UX and UI? These are the sorts of questions that I’ve had on my mind ever since the Apple announcement back in September 2014. Now that the release of WatchKit is out, soon followed by the beautiful Apple Watch hopefully in April, I want to dig into this a bit more.
It’s really no surprise the way Apple is stepping into allowing developers to build apps, er er… excuse me, extension apps, with this first release of WatchKit. This basically means that you can create a Mini-me app for the Watch that talks to the app on your iPhone running in the background. While we, as product designers, have some heavier than normal Apple shackles with the first release of WatchKit, designing within constraints always proves to be a worthwhile challenge.
That said, here are the design opportunities on my mind for the Apple Watch.
Designing for Convenience.
We live in a day and age where everything has an ability to be and is consistently optimized to be simpler, often equaling more convenient. In the past 25+/- years, we’ve seen our technology get easier and easier to access. From stationary desktop computers to laptops to smartphones & tablets, and now devices we can wear. Each of these provide a level of convenience that vary depending on the situation, environment and tasks a user trying to accomplish. As you’re thinking about designing an extension of your iPhone app, ask yourself, or more importantly, validate with your users…
What situations are they in when they may need to perform a task with your app?
For example, hanging out with friends, in a business meeting, on a hot date, or out for an early morning run. Each situation may present very different in the level of convenience to perform a desired task. On my morning runs, when I’ve got a good stride going listening to a KASKADE mix, it’s not nearly as convenient for me to stop, catch my breath, pull out my iPhone, and switch to a new mix as it would be just hanging out with friends.
What environment are they commonly in when needing to perform a task with your app?
The environment someone is in undoubtedly ties very closely to the situation, yet this is still an important thing to consider when thinking about ways to make a task more convenient to perform. Watching a movie in a crowded theater is very different than watching a movie from the comfort of your favorite worn in couch cushion at home.
What simple tasks do they repetitively perform using your app?
This can be as light and frequent as checking a notification to a task like requesting an Uber which is less frequent, but the action a user repeats every time they use the app. While both of these example tasks are on opposite sides of the spectrum of frequency there is still clear room for optimizing convenience when performing the task.
Get a baseline understanding of these levels in the different situations, environments, and tasks you’ve identified and look for clear ways to optimize the level of convenience when designing your WatchKit app extensions.
Designing for Behavior Loops.
In Nir Eyal’s recent book called Hooked (which I highly recommend reading), he explains the psychology around behavior loops and methods to get people through the loop repeatedly, thus soon resulting in being hooked on your app. His hooked model works like this:
The Trigger quadrant of this model is where a majority of the opportunity is in relation to designing you app extension with WatchKit. As you can see, there are two types of triggers. We are all very familiar with external triggers. These are the things as simple your phone vibrating in your pocket when someone calls or that little red notification circle with that sits above your email inbox. They are triggers that get you to answer the phone call or check your email. Internal triggers, on the other hand, are the triggers in your head. Nir goes to explain that these internal triggers are most often fueled by negative emotions. For example, if you’re feeling bored, what are you likely to do? Check your Instagram or Facebook? Yep. Me too. That boredom is the internal trigger we need to take the simple action of whipping out our iPhone. I’m not going to go too much deeper into Nir’s teaching, but again I highly recommend reading his book, Hooked – How to Build Habit Forming Products.
So, what does this mean? It means that we will soon be able to experiment creating new types of external triggers that entice users to take action.
Since the announcement of Apple Watch, I’ve created a few design tools to help me better conceptualize design patterns. There are yours for free. Enjoy!
How are you approaching a design strategy when it comes to Apple Watch? Love to hear what you think.