Design Tips for Wearable Technology
With the growing popularity of wearables in the form of watches, wristbands, earphones, glasses, and rings, if you haven’t designed for a wearable yet, expect it soon.
A survey showed that 1 in 6 consumers are currently using the wearable technology. Also, more than 70% of consumers in the age group of 16-24 years want to purchase a wearable device. This clearly shows an upcoming rise in the demand of wearables in the times to come.
The life of a designer is a roller coaster ride when it comes to designing wearables. So much has to be done with just a little piece of device. The set of challenges a designer faces while designing for wearables is unique. There are device limitations like smaller screen display, less battery life, and less information density. There is also a use case that people use it mostly when in motion. These all count for a set of tips to be kept in mind before designing for wearables.
1. Design for glanceability
The essence of design for a wearable is the glanceability. Glanceability is a term used for information designed for short moments of interaction.
The term was first coined in the context of screen less fitness trackers that were dependent on light to explain to the users what is going on.
However, in the context of a smartwatch, the definition changed entirely. Glanceability is more about sorting and displaying only the essential information to the user at any given moment.
In smartwatches, this is the first priority instead of reducing the interface down to the most basic visual feedback. The user should find it convenient to consume the content made, in less than 5 seconds.
Thus, it is imperative for the designers to keep the limited space in mind and display only crucial information.
2. Design light-weight interactions
Lightweight interactions are a must for short and crisp wearable user experiences.
If more than 10 seconds are required for user interaction, then you should redesign the interface to fit it in below 10 seconds. Show only required information that is essential for completing a task.
For reverting to a message, it’s better to avoid typing. Quick response templates should be offered and in case of longer responses, voice input option should also be provided.
3. Keep It Simple
The keep it simple principle in more applicable in wearables than in mobile and desktop user interfaces.
It should be cautiously taken care that the least amount of information and features are fed in the wearables. Avoid putting more actions and information than the required. Try and focus on one use case at a time and make a proper flow so that users can accomplish tasks quickly.
4. Design a Minimalistic Interface
Minimalistic design is a great fit for wearables. A minimalistic design covers everything from typography to color to object size. It means that the user should be able to interact easily with whatever is placed on the screen even when in motion.
We have outlined a few features that will help in developing a minimalistic design:
- Sharp contrast:
Contrast is a crucial element on small screens as it enhances visibility and readability.
- Uncomplicated typography:
A simple font which is readable from a distance should be chosen and it should be used in the wearable device. For example, Sans Serif works wonders when readability comes into question.
- Adequate space between elements:
To provide function and usability, you have to strike the right balance between too much space and too less space. Both of them are equally degrading for the design. Too much space will leave no room for other content to be placed while too less space will hinder the readability.
5. Minimize Interruption:
Would you like it if something constantly vibrates up against your skin during an important meeting or while you are asleep?
That is a big no, right?
Interruptions are disruptive highly on even large-screen smartphones. Now, if that is distractive what about the world of wearable that habitats on your skin?
Keep the interruptions minimum, so that the user can lead a blissful life in silence.
6. Focus on privacy:
With the advantage of being connected to the world every second, wearables are at risk of disclosing very personal information such as health data, private conversation, emails etc to anyone because they are at plain sight.
Given the issue, the designers should always opt for more privacy like vibrate first, then display the content and more such interactions.
7. Design for Offline Usage:
Why should people with internet have all the fun?
Think out of the box and create the utility of wearables even when not connected to the internet. Wearables are always on the move with us, definitely, they will face connectivity issues. Instead of always looking for a network, the user should have some offline utilities as well.
8. Check What’s Viable:
For designing a wearable, it is essential to check what is viable in terms of the capabilities and limitations of the platform.
Conduct proper research to assess the possibilities with the software development kit (SDK) and the physical capabilities which are available on the device.
If you skip the research part you might end up with unfeasible design ideas which is a huge risk in case of wearables and will definitely amount to a lot of rework.
Above principles might sound surfaced and very prudent. It is essential to keep the essence of simplicity while designing for a wearable in long run. The reason behind this is every interface is designed to empower a user to perform the desired activity quickly and with ease.
At GoodWorks Design, we have a team of highly proficient UX/UI designers for wearable technology.
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