Claire Rowland

Interusability: Designing a coherent system UX for connected products


Conventional usability/UX is concerned with interactions between a user and a single UI. But interactions for connected products (the internet of things) often span multiple devices with very different capabilities. Designers can’t just think about designing separate user interfaces, but need to design a coherent UX for the whole system. This is interusability.

This talk will cover:

  • Helping users form an effective mental model of the system: what different devices do, and how they are interconnected. When is it appropriate to explain the system model–how things actually work–and when to simplify so they don’t need to concern themselves with technical details?
    • Effective composition: distributing functionality between devices to suit the capabilities of the devices and context of use.
      • Appropriate consistency: how to determine which elements of the design should (and should not) be consistent across different interfaces, considering e.g. terminology, platform conventions, aesthetic styling, and interaction architecture.
        • Continuity: how patterns of connectivity unique to IoT can cause discontinuities in the UX between devices, and how to handle these in the design.

        About Claire

        Claire is an independent UX and product strategy consultant and the lead author of ‘Designing Connected Products: US of the consumer internet of things’. She has a particular interest in taking connected products from an early adopter user base to the mass market, and technologies that support mundane, everyday activities. Before becoming independent, she worked on energy management and home automation products as the service design manager for, a connected home platform provider. Previously, she was head of research for design consultancy Fjord, where she led EU funded R&D work investigating the interusability of interconnected embedded devices. She has worked in UX design and research for mobile, multiplatform and web services since 1997.

        Slides from Claire’s talk:

        Sketchnotes from Claire’s talk:
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        @roarsdraws’ sketchnotes
        @francisrowland’s sketchnotes

        Designing Connected Products

        Designing Connected Products

        By Claire Rowland, Elizabeth Goodman, Martin Charlier, Ann Light and Alfred Lui

        Networked thermostats, fitness monitors, and door locks show that the Internet of Things can (and will) enable new ways for people to interact with the world around them. But designing connected products for consumers brings new challenges beyond conventional software UI and interaction design.

        This book provides experienced UX designers and technologists with a clear and practical roadmap for approaching consumer product strategy and design in this novel market. By drawing on the best of current design practice and academic research, Designing Connected Products delivers sound advice for working with cross-device interactions and the complex ecosystems inherent in IoT technology.

        Buy “Designing Connected Products” →