Claire Rowland is recognised as an authority on user experience design, particularly in the area of connected products. She is the lead author of the book Designing Connected Products: UX for the consumer internet of things.
Claire has been working in UX since 1997, across UX research, design strategy and digital service design. She first became involved in IoT while head of research for design consultancy Fjord, where she led Fjord’s involvement in Smarcos, an EU-funded R&D consortium investigating the interusability of interconnected embedded devices.
In 2012 she joined AlertMe.com, a connected home platform provider now owned by British Gas Hive, as product manager for service design. There she led the design of the 2nd generation Remote Heating Control (the predecessor to Hive) and the first generation Smart Energy Report, the UK’s first consumer smart meter report. She launched her own consultancy in 2014.
Claire has been a frequent speaker on the international conference circuit in the last few years. For example slide decks from past conferences please see Speaking and Writing.
Building a connected product requires a systems thinking approach to development. Creating a great user experience for a connected product also requires a systems thinking approach to design.
People often assume that connected product UX refers to the industrial design of devices, and the UI design of the web and mobile apps that connect to them. Those things are important, but they are not the whole picture. It’s possible to create great hardware and a beautiful app but for a system to have a poor UX overall.
Connected products are usually systems: of multiple distributed devices, of software services, and often of offline customer service components too. It isn’t enough to think of design as industrial design and UI design: the whole service needs to be coherent.
We also believe that creating valuable, usable and appealing products doesn’t just stem from the activities we conventionally think of as a designer’s remit. It also requires clear product value propositions, the right business model for the market, and good alignment between technology enablers (APIs, platform capabilities) and user needs. For connected products this is more complex and more important than ever.
The diagram below illustrates the facets of design thinking we believe go into creating a great connected product. It shows that designing connected products is a holistic activity encompassing industrial and service design as well as the design of software and hardware interfaces. It requires excellent coordination at a very early stage with the engineers who will develop the platform as well as with industrial designers and business strategists.
Design facets for connected products
You can read more about this in my free O’Reilly report UX Design for the Internet of Things: why it’s more than UI and industrial design (registration required).