In the era of smart home devices, homeowners find traditional home security systems lacking in several key aspects. There's a rising demand for alarm systems that can be easily installed and set up via an app, offering not only smart features but also immediate police response in emergencies. However, many solutions currently available are complex to set up and navigate, hindering their efficiency. The real opportunity, therefore, lies in addressing this market gap by designing an intuitive, easy-to-use mobile app to complement the Boundary hardware.
To kickstart the project, we embarked on an in-depth competitor benchmarking phase. We thoroughly analyzed a variety of smart home security apps on the market, studying their design, functionality, ease of use, and customer reviews. This gave us a broad understanding of the industry standards, common pain points, and areas where we could innovate and differentiate ourselves. We compiled a detailed feature comparison matrix and identified opportunities for improvement, particularly in areas where users found the current market offerings lacking.
Next, we interviewed potential customers, our focus being homeowners in the 30-55+ age group. We employed a mix of one-on-one interviews and small focus groups, allowing us to delve into their needs, expectations, and experiences with current home security systems. We explored their desires for a seamless, easy-to-use solution, the value they placed on immediate police response, and their interest in managing home security through a simple app. These conversations were invaluable in giving us a clear picture of our target users' needs and pain points, and influenced the development of our user personas and the overall product strategy.
The insights from the discovery stage were crucial in guiding the project direction. They not only illuminated the landscape of the smart home security app market but also clarified the needs and expectations of our target audience. As a result, the findings played an instrumental role in defining our four primary goals for this project:
The ideation and brainstorming phase proved to be a vital cornerstone in shaping the app. Gathering a cross-functional team, including stakeholders, engeneers, and product managers, we embarked on a series of collaborative sessions, ensuring a diverse set of perspectives were at play. Drawing inspiration from our discovery stage findings, we employed techniques like mind mapping, sketching, and scenario building to visualize potential features and user journeys. These sessions were marked by a flurry of creativity, with team members challenging assumptions, building upon each other's ideas, and pushing boundaries. The outcome was a myriad of innovative concepts, each tailored to address user needs and pain points, ensuring our app would not only function optimally but also offer a unique user experience.
Transitioning from ideation to tangible design, we utilized Figma to create detailed interactive prototypes of our security app. These prototypes served as a visual and functional representation, allowing stakeholders to grasp the app's flow, design aesthetics, and interactivity. Once our initial designs were in place, we moved to validate our concepts through user testing. Partnering with UserTesting.com, we exposed our prototypes to real users, gauging their reactions, understanding their navigational choices, and collecting invaluable feedback. This real-time, contextual insight was crucial. It highlighted areas of friction, validated our design decisions, and most importantly, ensured our final product would be meticulously refined based on actual user interactions and expectations.
The first step in crafting the future design system was establishing a diverse Figma component library for both iOS and Android. I collaborated closely with developers to ensure accurate component implementation. These libraries simplified the shift from design to development by offering standardised elements. This accelerated product development and reinforced design uniformity. Throughout the process, I provided consistent support to the engineering team, fostering a unified user experience.
One of the most crucial pieces of work was the development of the app's onboarding journey and setup. This initial experience is the customer's first touchpoint with their new alarm system, and we understood the significance of making a strong, positive first impression. The onboarding journey is not just an introduction to the system but also a crucial step in building trust and confidence in the product.
We made it a priority to ensure that every user, regardless of their level of technical expertise, would feel confident and capable during the setup process, laying the foundation for a positive ongoing relationship with their Boundary alarm system. To achieve this, we closely adhered to established standards within the smart home IoT industry, which are already familiar to many of our users. This approach helped us create a smoother, more straightforward installation process, reducing the potential for user frustration or errors.
There were numerous potential paths for the onboarding journey, depending on factors such as the type of system, installation method, and purchase channel. We meticulously designed each of these paths, both happy and unhappy, to ensure a seamless experience regardless of the user's specific situation.
The top of the app's Home screen features a tile that displays the current status of the security system, making it easy to understand whether the system is armed, part-armed, triggered, disarmed or offline. All monitored rooms in the house are listed directly underneath, allowing customers to see if there is any activity in the rooms or if a sensor in a particular room needs attention.
The app's tab bar provides a quick access to different sections of the app, including the Home screen and Settings, and the ability to quickly change the alarm mode of the system from anywhere within the app.
Activity Alerts is a unique feature that allows customers to create personal alerts and get notified of any activity or inactivity detected in their home while the alarm system is disarmed. For example, the app could let you know if an elderly loved one is not following their normal routine and might need help. If someone is sleepwalking or not getting up in time for school.
We made use of the vast amounts of data gathered by contact and motion sensors in a controlled and secure way and translated this data into useful insights. The feature was released a couple of months after the initial launch of the app and helped us deliver even more value to Boundary's customers, significantly increasing the number of Daily Active Users (DAU).
The app gives customers complete control over their security system with advanced user management features, such as the ability to invite others to their security system and set the desired level of access for each person, eliminating the need to share accounts and PINs.
We received positive but also constructive feedback after testing the initial app prototypes with potential customers. This round of user testing allowed us to gather valuable insights and make improvements to the design of the app before its launch. The positive response from the user testing gave us confidence in the app's design and set us up for success upon its release.
We continued to improve our initial NPS score with iterative feature releases and updates. The app was well-received by customers, earning a rating of 4.4 stars on the App Store and receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews on both the Google Play Store and App Store.
Building a new purchase experience one step at a time.
The first step in the redesign process was to conduct user research to understandthe needs and preferences of our potential customers. This step was crucial as it helped us identify any potential issues and opportunities that we could address in the redesign. To gather this information, we employed a variety of research methods including competitor benchmarking, surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
For competitor benchmarking, we analysed the sales journeys of similar products in the market and identified areas where we could improve upon or set ourselves apart. Surveys and interviews allowed us to gather a larger sample size of feedback from potential customers, which helped us identify common patterns and themes. The focus groups were particularly valuable as they allowed us to observe users interacting with our early prototypes, which gave us a deeper understanding of their needs and preferences.
Once we had gathered and analysed all of our findings, I went back to the drawing board and utilised an iterative design approach to design a new solution. I conducted multiple user testing sessions and gradually refined my ideas based on participants' feedback and insights drawn from observing peoples’ behaviour while interacting with the prototype.
The final result is a step-by-step flow, utilising progressive disclosure of information that focuses customer’s attention on the most important details first. All while providing supplementary contextual information that is easily accessible when needed within the journey.
Another crucial task was to redesign Boundary's homepage and ensure that prospective customers had access to enough information to make an informed decision when comparing the product to competitors.
The above-the-fold area instantly communicates the nature of the product and its credibility. The core navigation is consistently featured in the header, making an effective logical combination of links and dropdowns, inviting visitors to learn more about the alarm system and enter the purchase funnel. The content on the page is concise and informative, utilising a solid typographic hierarchy that makes the web page scannable and allows potential customers quickly understand the value and benefits of the Boundary alarm system.
After the initial launch of the new purchase experience, I gathered analytics data to measure the impact of the redesign and to further fine-tune the customer journey.