The GLAS Smart thermostat was Johnson Controls’ first break into the residential HVAC market.
I wore two hats on the GLAS project. For the first half of the project, I was a Technical Writer who created the installation documentation that would arrive with the product. For the second half of the project, I transitioned to the UX team and acted as a designer, developing new features and designs for GLAS and the GLAS mobile app.
Due to the B to B nature of the company, the technical documentation was written for professional technicians that install HVAC products as a full-time job. The documentation is highly technical and assumes a lot of knowledge of the installer. When writing for residential, I had to pivot from our standard templates and outlines to build a document that could be understood by someone who had never seen a thermostat before. Also, the paper installation instructions included in the box had to be used as the getting started guide on the mobile app and the device. Ensuring that all of the language, images, and steps could be used for all three platforms was crucial.
I strayed from our documentation patterns to create full-color documentation and worked closely with our Industrial Designer to create wiring diagrams and other graphics that provided more detailed imagery than line-drawings and high-level equipment images. I worked with the print vendor to review samples and be certain that everything about the booklet, from the content to the weight of the paper, was a simple and pleasant experience.
After the documentation was complete, I transitioned jobs within the company and joined the UX team as a designer. At the time of the switch, I was assigned to the GLAS project as I was familiar with the product. I worked side-by-side with my mentor to provide mobile and device wireframes for new features as well as performing compliance testing on all existing features to provide feedback and updates.
To ensure that we were on the right track breaking into a new market, we performed user testing at a nearby testing facility. These 40-minute tests allowed us to see users interact with the product and attempt to perform a series of actions. A lot of valuable feedback came out of these sessions that allowed us to reconfigure and adjust our features to make them more understandable for users.
This project tread into new territory for the company. As both a writer and a designer, I looked to the market to track down standards and current methods so the things that I created would be competitive and usable. While this project was a lot of new experiences for me, I enjoyed the opportunity to break from the mold and find a new way to do something we had done for ages.