a wearable that helps you achieve your health and fitness goals, while staying connected.
Status: Shipped | Role: Hardware Interaction Designer
Create a system that helps people achieve their fitness goals and stay connected to the information that matters most to them, by evolving and developing new experiences for Microsoft's second generation fitness wearable.
People who want to understand how their health and lifestyle intersect by gaining a deeper understanding of their behavior through data.
I worked on the Band 2 end-to-end from concept to shipping to market: from developing concepts, to working with our prototyper flighting ideas, to quickly testing designs in context with users, building out experiences elbow-to-elbow with engineers, and finally dogfooding every experience. A few experiences I played a key role designing are: Music Controls, the Activity Reminder, the MeTile progress bar and goal animations, the UV experience, and many more, down to the color schemes.
Research was a crucial part of this project, and a constant in our process; starting with looking at user feedback and the user voice forum for the first Microsoft Band. We did competitive analysis around each feature we developed, trying to figure out if and how other devices were approaching similar problems. At every phase we worked closely with our research team, flighting out new concepts and features with users through usability studies. Dogfooding every experience we built helped us understand the pain points, catch bugs early, and build empathy for our users.
DESIGNING WITH OUR USER IN MIND
A wearable is deeply personal; it's on you all of the time. There is a constant push-pull in using the technology as an enabler to help people achieve more during activities and as a disrupter that actually gets in the way, becoming an annoyance. Every experience we designed needed to be intuitive, quick to interact with, and delightful. It's not just about giving people access to info, but about how much info, when, and what to say.
Some core Band experiences are run, bike, free workout, guided workout, messaging, calendar, calls, and more. Sometimes it's the littlest things that are the most motivating, like seeing bubbles animate when you meet your step goal for the day. We worked meticulously to get these little animations just right. With the right haptic, the Activity Reminder experience becomes invisible, just a small nudge the user can configure reminding them to go for a walk every now and then.
Some of the biggest challenges our team of three core designers faced were: battery life, visual design and input challenges due to the device's curved screen, having only two hardware buttons, using a touch screen while sweating, and of course, how this device fits into someone's life. Always going back to how and when people will be interacting with this device, allowed us to tackle these constraints in creative ways.
As quickly as we could, we would get concepts off the screen and onto our wrists. Experience the designs in the actual context a user would experience them. Often times that meant saving images to a few bands, slapping them on my wrist and going for a run outside, getting into a real world scenario as fast as possible.
ELBOW TO ELBOW with ENGINEERS
We worked extremely close with engineering, often spending hours sitting side-by-side building out an experience and exploring concepts down to the details of a twinkling star animation. We had a mutual trust, challenging each other to deliver the best experiece we could to our users.
SWEATING THE DETAILS
We went from thinking at a macro level, about how each experience on the band fits into the entire system down to the pixel, obsessing about the details, and getting to that level of craft. We delivered UX flows, redlines, technical specifications, haptic specifications, copy, assets for marketing videos, and much more.
FEATURED EXPERIENCE: MUSIC CONTROLS
Music Controls was the #1 requested feature on the Microsoft user voice forum. We knew this was a core experience we wanted to bring to users, but we had no time and very few engineering resources. Working with one other designer and two engineers, we brought this experience to life. The problem: control music from your wrist quickly, while on the go.
CONTEXT & DESIGN
The constraints: battery life, only two hardware buttons that are already overloaded, interacting with a touch screen while moving or sweaty is not ideal, and the controls must be universally accessible regardless of what you're doing on the band. We landed on a music experience initiated by a double press of the power button.
DETAILS & IMPLEMENTATION
Once in the music experience, the user can interact with the touch screen to control play/pause and volume, or use the Action Button for controls. If running, for example, you can use a hardware button to invoke the music controls and adjust music, without looking at the screen. We thoroughly dogfooded this, and made sure there were no performance hits adding in this feature.
IMPACT & LEARNINGS
SHIPPING TO MARKET
We launched the Band 2 online and in stores October 2015. Many reviewers raved about improvements over the first band and execution on features users had requested. With the long requested feature addition of music controls, one user said, “Now I could see myself using one of these.” The launch of the Band 2 was a success in expanding our user base from the first Band.
design hardware & experience in step
The Band 2 hardware and experience were designed by separate teams, which meant some fundamental experience issues like screen glare, resulting from the curved screen, were not identified early in the design process. Closer collaboration between experience and hardware design, starting as early as possible, is crucial to designing the best experience for users.
A good feedback loop is key
We had good channels for users to give suggestions and feedback on new experiences they wanted, through Microsoft User Voice. It's equally important to have the systems and telemetry in place to measure usage and feedback on features you build and release. Having a clear feedback loop allows you to make the most meaningful improvements over time.