With any new technology, challenges arise throughout the process of designing and developing a product. However, troubleshooting to overcome these hurdles often yields unique lessons learned.
Clutch spoke with leaders from 15 businesses with experience planning, designing, developing, and working with wearable technology, and they imparted four crucial pieces of advice.
- Understand the appropriate use cases
- Develop a unique product
- Realize the platform’s limited resources
- Create a prototype and engage in thorough testing.
The lesson thought leaders stressed the most focused on the positive relationship between understanding how consumers use wearables and designing a device or application that is engaging or beneficial.
1. Understand Use Cases
The majority of thought leaders emphasized the importance of determining how consumers will use wearables before beginning the design and development process.
“In order to succeed in the technology market, you have to pair technology with a specific use case to trigger the adoption of the technology. Who is actually going to benefit from this? … It has to be the people that can really get some use out of it and make their lives better.”
— Al Baker, Co-founder and CEO, Reemo
This idea points to the connection between knowing your audience and designing and developing effectively for wearables.
“For us, having Medisafe on the Apple Watch increases user engagement because it's another touch point for patients. It reinforces the overall utility of the mobile app. For others though, this may not be the case.”
— Jon Michaeli, Head of Marketing and Business Development, Medisafe
The experts shared that after investigating and predicting consumer usage habits, they realized the importance of embracing simplicity. Incorporating complex, time-intensive features risks losing the user's attention.
“Wearables are cool, but you have to make sure that the apps are practical and easy to use. I would say, if you keep it simple, you will see benefits.”
— Amar Narain, Head of Information Technology, PizzaPizza
“You really have to simplify what it is that you're going to do on the watch: understand what the boundary is so you don't overcomplicate the application and make it unstable.”
— Jon Michaeli
2. Develop a Unique Product
Another lesson learned entailed developing a unique product instead of simply replicating an existing mobile application on a wearable.
“The main lesson learned … is smartwatches are not phones, so you are not meant to treat them as phones. You need to think about the experiences you want to bring the user and design them in their own unique way.”
— Andrew Garkavyi, CEO, Stanfy
This lesson speaks not only to the vast potential working with a new platform presents but also to the necessity of understanding the appropriate use cases for wearables.
“Make the app relevant to the platform itself. Don't simply extend a preexisting idea to the new device. Take full advantage of the new hardware that your software is running on and make it a unique value proposition.”
— Graham Dodge, President and CEO, Sickweather
“It's not just about downsizing your app and switching it on. It actually requires a lot of work.”
— Sep Seyedi, CEO, Plastic Mobile
3. Realize Platform's Limited Resources
The experts shared that they met designing for a new platform with excitement but quickly learned that wearables have limited resources. These limitations arise due to the small size of many wearable devices and require careful consideration and planning.
“From the engineering perspective, you have very limited resources that you have to use wisely, and you need to think about them from day one as you're building something on these platforms.”
— Andrew Garkavyi
The size of the wearable devices forced designers and developers to simplify features and capabilities.
“One of the lessons we learned was not to underestimate the complexity of a small-screen app. It can be fairly complex. Just because the screen is small or the number of cards displayed on the screen is limited does not mean that it's going to be an easy process.”
— Levent Gurses, President, Movel
4. Create a Prototype and Engage in Thorough Testing
Especially on a new platform that still has technological kinks, developing a prototype and testing a product throughout the design and development process is crucial to success.
While more time intensive, the process will ensure a quality product.
“Developing a clickable prototype is one of the cheapest investments any company can make in order to come up with a good project.”
— Levent Gurses
The four lessons the wearables thought leaders shared will guide future businesses and development companies as they embrace wearable technology. As more businesses begin working with wearables, they should heed this relevant advice.