The Smart Furnishings App is a mobile application to help set up and personalize the smart office furnishings from Herman Miller.
User Research, IA, UI Design, Testing, Style Guide
Andrew Fullerton/Tyler Merry/Sam Xia
One of the biggest motivations to develop the smart office furnishings is that people’s engagement with their sit-to-stand desks tapers—they often utilize it more at first, then gradually less, eventually just as a standard sitting desk. To understand why, we conducted several contextual user interviews.
Two interesting discoveries were made from the user interviews:
- People are aware of the health benefits of a sit-to-stand desk, but have little understanding of what a good posture is in the first place. They need guidance in setting up the workspace so that they can be in a healthy posture either when sitting or standing.
- People want to use the sit-to-stand function more, but need motivation and reminders to take actions. There’s often a “honeymoon period” with the new desk, then people fall back to how they used to work—sitting all day, usually. In order to keep them engaged they need to change their behavior—to form a new habit.
As a way to better understand the user’s day-to-day activities in an office setting and to discover potential approaches to the problem, I created these journey maps to document the user’s interactions with the smart furnishings in a relatively realistic scenario.
A Bit More Research
One thing we noticed right away was that there could be too many reminders (called “nudges”) throughout the day, constantly interrupting the users or worse, causing them to ignore the nudges completely. What is a good amount?
To answer the question, two things need to be considered: a) there’s an ergonomic guidance on the maximum duration of continuous sitting or standing—that gives us the lower limit of nudges; b) in an 8-hour workday, the total number of nudges should be limited—that gives us the upper limit. We compiled the research findings into a summary.
With input from the client regarding the timeline and priorities, we created this IA map to document all major functions and user flows of the app.
Based on the research we created the first draft of wireframes, and iterated on them with feedback from the client as well as testing results. Then we created the visual designs based on the wireframes. Instead of working as a pipeline, we all worked on UX and UI design throughout the project, and divided the work by user flows. That way each of us would have a solid understanding of the big picture, and could cover each other’s grounds when necessary.
Another contribution I made to this project was creating and maintaining the style guide. In addition to the static version, I also kept a living style template as a Sketch file using text styles and symbols. The Sketch version proved to be tremendously helpful as we underwent several changes to the color palette per request from Herman Miller’s branding team.