In order to understand the users of this product and get a grasp on the key functionality of the new device, I held an ideation workshop. Using the previous version of the product and discussion with the product managers, I was able to identify our target users.
In our workshop, I walked the group though taking these users and highlighting their specific needs or challenges in relation to the device. Using that information, I was able to determine the key workflows the device must have to work for all users.
- Language-free UI that is understandable for any building occupant who enters the room.
- User access controls for facility managers who have building-wide controls settings to maintain.
- Hidden technician settings for troubleshooting.
Knowing there was a lot of pre-work to do, I teamed up with one of the team researchers and we got to work exploring icons and their global meanings. We made a list of all the actions and information needed in the UI and brainstormed a list of potential icons. We then took that list and scoured the internet to ensure that they would apply to all markets, especially the US, Canada, and China.
With some workable icon ideas in hand, we started mapping out the interface design. The NS8000 is a family of products and this new version was the first touch-screen display in the line-up. We used the previous generation as a jumping-off point and re-worked the design to accommodate the touch screen and create a unified style with some of our other new products.
Aside from the language-free challenge, there were also a few other considerations. As a device that would live in public spaces, the team wanted to include hidden information that only technicians would be able to access. As a hidden screen for only facility managers, this would be the only screen with text. I implemented a press and hold function to the connection icon for hidden details about the device.
In addition to hidden information, they wanted to ability to disable certain screens and interactions so building occupants would not be able to tamper with settings. To solve this I created a hidden edit screen for the device when icons were pressed and held. In this edit mode, the technician can disable features or screens, restructuring the bottom navigation.
With a solid idea and prototype, we got to user testing. We set up a test in UserZoom test with participants from around the global including; India, China, Germany, France, and America.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with over a 75% success rate for all tasks. Users quickly completed the tasks with minimal confusion. One of the only hang ups for multiple users, was the fan speed adjustment. The mostly-grey color scheme (image on the right) made it difficult for user to tell if buttons were active as well as the current speed setting.
So, I removed the fill from the unselected bars to emphasize their current state and added the blue outline to the adjustment arrows, consistent with the temperature control button on the temperature screen, to reinforce the the use of those buttons. We conducted a quick second round of research and the problem did not appear with the second test group.
I went into this project unsure if it was possible to achieve exactly what was being asked. An icon-only interface can quickly be unclear or include icons with multiple meanings. With a lot of iteration and research, we were able to create something we felt good about, but after testing and changes, we delivered something we felt sure of.