User interface

User experience

School assignment

4 months

A lot of thermostatic and smart home apps are complicated to use. I wanted to counter that by making a thermostatic app that is more personal, simple and quick to use. Mostly focussing on these four aspects helped with keeping the app clean and not overloaded with different functions.

What we had to do

Daikin is specialised in solutions for “climate control”. Devices that control the temperature in stores, companies but can also be used at home.

In addition to physical devices like a remote control, thermostat or Cloud based solutions, Daikin also worked on a user-friendly and easy usable mobile version, the so-called online controller.
We had to give this app a new, premium look. It had to fit within the Daikin brand, but it also had to have it’s own uniqueness. We could add things to the app, if we found it valuable, but everything that was already in the app still had to be in there.

“How can I make the Daikin app easier to use for everyone?”

Analysing the app

After analysing the app and some other apps I came to the conclusion that there's not really a good smart home app. Some of these apps have good functions, but a lot of them aren’t easy to use. The flow is often complicated and the visual aspect is mostly ignored. Most apps are very impersonal, this means they aren’t fit for familial use, even though most apps focus on this.

Research the target audience

If we look at it, the target audience for this app is rather large, it’s hard to create an app where you have to take this big of a group into account. You can’t make something that is fit to use in a large building, but also can be used at home, these are two very different things.


Therefor I focussed on home-use. This because many apps try to focus on this, but none of them are really usable (none of which I tested). I do keep in mind that this app still has to work for companies, stores, big buildings and so on.


The people that fit in the target audience I focussed on are busy with their work, family, hobbies, friends and other things. They often forget to lower the heating when they leave their home. This group is used to using digital products, which doesn’t mean the app can be complicated.

The temperature must be easy and quick to change and schedules for when the temperature has to change on a certain time have to be simple. To get in the mind of this target audience I made some persona.

Goals

Let's get personal

For an optimal experience I wanted to make the app more personal without using accounts. How can I let the app talk to people (by using their name) without accounts?

Make it quick

The app has to be quick to use. How can I let people set a temperature as quickly as possible?

Make it easy

The app now is not easy to use, some things are really hard to find. How can I make an app that can be used without thinking?

The analysis showed that a simple and quickly usable app is necessary. This app can, by making use of the right animations, icons and colour, be used by a large target audience. I wanted the app to have a more personal feeling without having to use accounts, this way users will get an optimal experience. This app will be used at home to quickly change the temperature, this mostly happens on smartphones, so it seems most logic to focus on a smartphone app.

Startup

Daikin, as said before, focusses on a large target audience, therefor the app has to be usable for everyone. It is practically impossible to equate a flow of home use with a flow of large companies. That is why in the start-up of the app I make a distinction between home use, retail, hotel and large buildings.

Clean overview

The different units you have added are on an overview page, so you have a quick overview of the temperature of the various units and which functions are enabled. You can group units (for example per floor, per building ...) to get a better overview. To make the app more intuitive and personal, the units you use most are placed more forward.

There is also a search bar so you can search for a certain unit or group (this can be useful for larger companies).

Chatbot

A chatbot is used throughout the app. You can use the chatbot anywhere you are in the app, just swipe down. The chatbot will also give all notifications and will guide you through the app. You can ask questions or ask if it can set a certain temperature via a Fast Mode, on which more later.

To make the chatbot delightful and zero effort I made sure typing isn’t a must, most of the times you get choices to choose from. Made a mistake? You can still type to go back and change what you chose.

Easy temperatures

There will be modes in the app to which you can give a certain temperature. This way you can give a certain temperature to your home with one click. The standard labels are comfort, at home, away & sleeping.

You can of course also put these modes in a schedule. For example, instead of entering a certain temperature for a certain duration, you can set comfort for a certain duration.

Fast
modes

You can activate, add and modify these personal modes via the chatbot. They are similar to the Easy Temperature modes, but in the fast modes you can also switch certain functions on and off and choose to use this for certain units or groups. On the overview page you can see which unit has a fast mode switched on by the plus symbol next to the temperature.

For example, if it is a hot day, you can quickly turn on all air-conditioning units over the entire house by saying: “it’s hot today” to the chatbot. This switches on the Fast Mode immediately.

Set temperature

For this I wanted to find the best possible system, since this is the core of the app and will therefore be used most often. If a schedule has been set for the selected unit, next schedule will also be shown on this page, so you can quickly see when the temperature will eventually change. When you change the temperature, you get feedback on based on color changes.

A big UX problem I found, was changing the temperature. There isn’t really a good system for this available, so I wanted to solve this problem. After experimenting a lot, combining 2 versions was my best option. My final version is this temperature slider where, while using it, the temperature shows up left from the slider. You still can see the full screen (you don’t have to cover your screen with you hand while sliding up and down) and you can also see the temperature changing.

Notifications

The app (chatbot) will give notifications in about the weather, but also about who is home or isn’t. Suddenly nobody home (app knows this through geofencing), but the heating is still fully on? Then the app will give a message with the suggestion to setup the “away” mode.

Alerts

Malfunctioning units will be brought forward on the overview page. The alert will be marked so you can quickly find out what the problem is. If it is a problem that can be solved at home, the chatbot will help to solve the problem. Otherwise, the chatbot will suggest calling the Daikin helpdesk and will switch off the unit (so that no further problems are caused).

Schedule

The system to add a schedule will be simplified so that it can happen faster. Here again the chatbot is used to offer help.

Usage

Working with high vs low usage is a better option. This is easier to understand, so you can see more quickly whether consumption is high or low without having to convert it from kWh. You can still see how much kWh is high, low or average, so you can still compare this.

I found this project fun to work on, because I could go really into detail with this app. I had 4 months for this project which means I could do a lot of research and could experiment with different styles for the app.

Also thinking about how to solve UX problems for this app was interesting for me as I hadn’t really done that before for an app. Keeping in mind how people use their phones, how people are actually really lazy when it comes to their phones and using apps... It was pretty cool to bring this to practice.

Coming up with great and less great ideas, combining ideas and by doing that coming up with something totally different than what I had in mind first for this project. This project gave me a whole different perspective on designing an app while keeping the people who'll use it in mind.