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This exploratory project synthesized and developed an all-inclusive smart home mobile application called, "TARTAN home". From research to full App design, our team worked through an agile workflow to solve real user problems and provide tangible solutions.​


CLIENT | Designation 

ROLE | UX/UI Designer 

PLATFORM | Mobile 

TIMELINE | 1 Month 


Competitive analysis
User testing

Application mapping

High fidelity mockups

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Our four-person team worked within the Google Design sprint method. A simply structured brainstorm based on design thinking and agile development.  Within our five-day sprints, we defined critical business questions through ideation, prototyping, and testing ideas with users.

The Challenge

With the promise of a fully connected home, users can now control everything in their home through either a remote or an application on their smartphone or tablet.


However, the landscape of these controllable devices is still very fragmented and there isn't an integrated way for users to control their whole home. Our challenge was to create an interface for the iOS platform that allowed users to control every digital device in their home through one single interface.


Technology has integrated into every aspect of our lives from something as minute as a preset coffee maker, to monitoring the security of our home. With every new technological advancement comes additional applications to download and operate. Through our competitive analysis, we discovered a hole in the marketplace for a cohesive solution.  Before we dove into creating the interface we needed to find out who our users were and what they wanted.


We started by asking a few questions:



1. Who is are target audience?


2. What motivates them to buy?


3. Why do they engage with the interface?


We assumed that users wanted the latest and greatest technology because it was cool and cutting edge.  Our initial target audience was predominantly male, early adopters to technology with disposable income. We started out by surveying 38 users asking questions around economic and socioeconomic backgrounds as well as current Smart Home technology use. We found that more than 50% were 36 years and older, married and owned their homes. The most surprising statistic was that owners and operators of Smart Home technology were predominantly female. With these guidelines, we started to narrow down our target audience to recruit interview participants. Targeted interviews were set up and conducted both face to face and virtually. From these interviews, we gathered data on the buying trends, motivations and barriers that people had when buying and using smart home technology. We synthesized our observations by creating an affinity map, which allowed us to see user pain points and patterns around smart home technology. In contrast to our initial assumption, we learned that users bought and used smart home technology for a very different reason.

It gives me peace of mind to see what is happening on my phone while I am away.

Heather, Smarthome user

Born from empathy

Two main users emerged from the data. Our most notable was Katrina, the “Busy Caregiver”.


A surprising trend…

80%  of our users recounted a traumatic experience that triggered them to purchase their smart home technology. The triggers ranged in burglary, neighborly disputes and medical safety of the home occupants. With our data, we uncovered who our target audience was and what motivated them to buy. We utilized this data in the development of our personas, customer journey map, and the user stories. 

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The traumatic experience was the motivator, but the empathetic bond between the user and the people or pets inside their home was the biggest factor in their continued interaction with the device/interface.


With Katrina in mind, we focused on empathy and uncovered our problem statement: 

"Busy caregivers need peace of mind to know what’s going on at home when they’re away because those in their care can’t always call or communicate their needs.” 


Understanding the WHY was a pivotal part of our research. This directly affected our guiding design principles. 

Design Principles


Gives the user a sense of control through clear, customizable options and features. Uses cues and feedback to prevent feelings of frustration.



Uses the least number of essential elements to retain core functionality while resisting the impulse to include unnecessary features. Extends this simplicity to the design of user flows and copy.



Meets user where they are and anticipates needs where possible. Prevents errors and proactively communicates progress and success.



Makes use of established design patterns and conventions. Provides suggestions and just-in-time information to make tasks easy and intuitive.



Enjoyable to use. Uses friendly language and visual elements that convey warmth and welcome. Evokes positive feelings. Minimizes stress and maximizes trust.



Supports the user with prompts, learns user patterns, and collects user data to adapt to user lifestyle.

Rapid Prototyping

Validating ideas through rapid prototyping and user testing is the first step in building A+ products. Today we’ll learn why…and how.


To the drawing board…


Nothing beats pencil and paper to get back to the basics of design. Paper prototyping encourages me as a designer to take more risks and explore a wide variety of assumptions. During this sprint, we storyboarded ideas, created paper prototypes, conducted cart sorts and users tests.

User Testing: Round 1

Our team diverged and individually sketched out paper prototypes to be tested.


Four key flows were explored with our individual paper prototypes:

  • Dealing with an alert from the lock screen (my prototype)

  • Giving guest access to your home while away

  • Set up a new device while in the app

  • Initial set up of the app


With my prototype, I wanted to explore the feeling of urgency that the users expressed during our interviews. Additional assumptions and data were tested with the individual prototypes. The key findings from all of the paper prototype tests helped us narrow down the main user flow and important functions.


Key findings:

  • 90% the testers wanted an alert to override any screen they were in (including waking the phone if in silent mode) 

  • 80% of the testers wanted to stay on one screen to control all the devices

  • 100% of the users wanted a seamless setup processes 

  • 60% of the users wanted a way to call 911 or an emergency number directly from the app


Though we received great data around function, we were still perplexed on what to name our categories. We all had different mental models for how technology should be categorized and grouped. During our paper prototype tests, we simultaneously tested our users with an open-ended card sort. Interestingly there were no definitive categories that stood out. This helped us by diverting our design away from text-heavy categories.


With our key findings from the paper prototypes and the card sort data, we drew out our key user flow on a whiteboard.

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User Testing: Round 2

With our defined flow, we diverged once again to create individual mid-fidelity Axure wireframes and clickable prototypes. This allowed us as designers to interpret the data and experiment with hierarchy, UI patterns, and typography.


My mid-fidelity design explored swim lanes of images and icons. I was directly influenced by the 80% of users who wanted all their information on one screen. I also considered one-handed use of the app and swiping with just the thumb.

I recorded the user tests with the screen capture and microphone recording. By using the think out loud protocol we captured in the moment feedback and ruled out unnecessary interactions. We combined the strongest user flows to proceed into the next round of mid-fidelity mockups.

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Key Findings
  • Users wanted step by step set up with numbers to indicates where they were in the process

  • Conversational language and shortened slang felt more human and inviting 

  • Users wanted the constant lower navigation with clear limited options 

  • Users wanted to see their live feed cameras immediately upon opening the app

Final Flow

As a team, we synthesized the data from the tests, combined our Axure prototypes and finalized the user flow. 

Our final user flow:

  • Set up new devices 

  • Onboarding through coachmarks 

  • Explore the dashboard

  • Address the alert

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