- Balance Public and Personal
- Keep it Glanceable
- Leverage Non-Visual UI
- Beware of the Data Avalanche
- Mind the Gaps
Balance Public and Personal
Wearables pose a unique challenge to designers. They are worn publicly to express our sense of fashion and style, but at the same time they can display extremely personal data. With these new devices, we may find ourselves “wearing” some of the most personal aspects of ourselves: our conversations, relationships, and even health. Unlike our smartphones which we can conceal in the privacy of our pockets, wearables may ironically be the most intimate and public devices yet. When designing for this paradox, we should keep in mind this precarious tipping point between Public and Personal.
- Sense which way the device is facing – display content accordingly.
- Vibrate first, display second.
- Give the user control but ship with considerate defaults.
Keep it Glanceable
Screen real estate (if the device even has a screen) is extremely limited, so exposing users to the smallest amount of data possible to help them achieve their goals is key. Designs overloaded with detailed information will require too much attention, may distract users or compete with their social context. In most scenarios, services should show one piece of information at a time. Make it count.
- Show one thing at a time.
- Keep it simple for users. Their dates will thank you.
Leverage Non-Visual UI
Wearable displays are a lot smaller than we are used to. However, with constraint comes opportunity. To make up for their lack of screen size and visual-based interactions, many wearables offer new and different ways to input and receive information. Gesture recognition, tapping patterns, health data and vibrational communication are all some of the capabilities that will enable the future of screen-less interactions. Fist bump to tweet!
- Consider some new inputs, like gesture, voice, health and tapping.
- Notify with nuanced feedback – haptics, vibrations and sounds.
Beware of the Data Avalanche
Today, we have a ton of access to data and communications, so prioritizing is essential. We should focus on delivering only the most important information when the user needs it, creating experiences that support rather than overwhelm. The goal is to create a system that elegantly stays in the background of our lives while supporting specific tasks. Don’t let it snowball out of control!
- Interact with users only at the right moments.
- Let them decide how much they want to hear from you.
Mind the Gaps
Wearables are the newest addition to our digital lives. And like many devices, they will experience connectivity problems. They will also face the challenge of integrating with the existing devices in our digital ecosystem. As designers, we should strive to provide useful offline modes and frictionless transitions between our increasingly numerous devices. Offline is your time to shine.
- Always provide core functionality in offline mode.
- Make transitions unnoticeable when people change devices.