Innovation on the white goods market
Internet of Things is a nowadays trend. More than 2,2 trillion of Euro of investments are foreseen on this topic by 2020. And Whirlpool decided to invest on the IoT world designing a connected suite of appliances. The connected suite will allow customers from all over the world to control their washers, dishwashers, dryers and refrigerators using their iOS and Android devices.
We live in a constantly connected world. Our smartphones and tablets are the “extension of ourselves”. If we do not think about something, they do that for us. We cannot live one day, or even one hour, without them.
For this reason to manage our homes via remote control is becoming easier and more accessible for everyone. Through our smartphones, tablets or even using our smart watches.
Our goal was to offer to customers the possibility to manage and control their appliances using the 6TH SENSE LIVE application. Guarantying simplicity, easiness of use and reliability, beyond the well-known high Whirlpool performances.
Target of refrence
During the first project phase one fundamental step was to define the target and representative personas for the Connectivity project. This aspect was defined together with Whirlpool Marketing Department using the Whirlpool brand pillars as reference.
The project target is a family of “Progressive Life Achievers” from 25 to 40 years old. They have a dynamic and active life. They are constantly looking for innovative and easy solutions that follow their life-style, able to help them to be constantly connected to their world.
My role in the team
I was part of the team as interaction / UX designer responsible for the experience strategy and design of the iOS and Android applications leading the User Experience strategy for the project. Working with a project leader, marketing managers, engineers involved in the hardware development, a larger team of both front-end and software engineers and an external creative agency responsible for the visual design of the application, I worked very much on the end-to-end process. End-to-end process starting from the user research and service design (with iterative storyboards) to user journeys and wireframes design. Conducting then the approval of the graphical tables and the final phase of testing between appliances and application.
I successfully embedded a UX process into a fast paced Agile environment where was able to quickly iterate on ideas and assumptions based on user validations/feedback received from the one year of field test conducted in Brescia. During the project I was also responsible for these user test, conducting face-to-face interviews and getting feedbacks from the customers involved.
The user research was led in Brescia involving 20 families. Whirlpool offered them the complete connected suite and an iPad with a technical Whirlpool app installed on it. This application was a first release and reduced version of the 6TH SENSE LIVE Whirlpool app with the aim to manage the connected appliances installed in Brescia. The 20 families involved had to support us giving feedbacks about the use of 24/7 connected products. I led the three sessions of interview using different research methodologies such:
Thanks to the research we could improve the overall user experience of the connected appliances understanding weak and strong points of the project. It was an useful starting point for the commercial app development. In fact the participants considerations about the technical app were taken into account during the 6TH SENSE LIVE design.
The commercial app was designed simultaneously to the user research led in Brescia. In this way the main findings that came out from the research were taken into consideration for the final app design.
In order to lead an end-to-end process the project started with service design phase with the design of several storyboards. This documentation was useful to analyse the application use cases and to review them with other team members. The following storyboard was designed for the in-app ecommerce service.
Other important documents, very useful for the app design, were the user journeys. During this elaboration I had to constantly work with product engineers in order to understand the appliance feedbacks while the user was interacting with the app. One of the most difficult user journey to define was about the provisioning phase. Our goal was to guide the users during the appliances installation at home without any call for the customer service. For this reason we had to clearly identify the best and easiest flow to follow in order to offer the best user experience on the application guarantying the successful appliance installation and connection to the Internet.
The wireframing is a fundamental phase for the content and interactions definition during the app design activity. The use of tools such as Omnigraffle and Axure were fundamental for the elaboration of that documentation. During this process 600 tables have been designed. The aim was to explain the interactions between the 5 appliances and the application. It was a long and challenging exercise but it was definitely important for the next graphic design and development phases. In order to follow a common structure I elaborated different templates at the beginning of this phase. These templates are shown in the following pictures.
On the basis of this documentation the 600 wireframes were designed, with the help of the external supplier, and then used as basis for the Visual design phase. Moreover they were used by the front-end team as reference for the user gestures and interactions to implement during the application development. My role was to judge and give feedbacks to the agency about the weekly deliveries. My aim was to ensure a great and enhanced experience to the customers guaranteeing a fully usable and user-oriented application. The following pictures show some of the Wireframes designed for the 6TH SENSE LIVE application.
Introducing 6TH SENSE LIVE
The gallery below shows the final iOS app for launch.
The main menu has been designed to allow users quick access to primary functions and appliances selection. The size of the icons make tapping easier, the order of the icons are based on appliances installation order and the layout was chosen to provide a way for the design to scale for iPad and Android release.
With our personas representing the family of reference we hoped to amplify the positive aspects of taking care of the house and help users in their daily tasks making this easier and as pleasant as possible. For this reason we developed for instance the Assisted Cycle for fabric care category. We want to create a sense of reassurance and peace of mind and let users they are in safe hands.
The interface design strives to be confident. It does not contain unnecessary elements. We opted for clear, readable typography — caused by the 16 different languages translation — choosing colours in harmony with Whirlpool brand, with high contrast to increase legibility in each condition. The design is uncluttered, clean and well spaced. All our design decisions help to exude a sense of confidence in the design.
I’m proud of the work I did for Whirlpool. This was a challenging project, which I found to be truly rewarding for the trendy and interesting topic. I was fortunate to work on such a high‐profile app that has the ability to influence the day‐to‐day lives of Whirlpool customers. I was also lucky to work with a great company, who stood behind our vision and a talented and passionate team to make it happen.