Industry prognosticators have touted wearables as the next big thing in the tech industry for 2015.
As you may already know, wearable technology is not new to the tech scene and has appeared in several forms over the past few years. However, with the Apple Watch’s debut this past June, wearable’s momentum and visibility have sped up tremendously.
IDC research estimated annual shipments of wearables at 19.6 million in 2014. This might seem like a drop in the ocean when compared to smartphones and tablets’ numbers. Still, don’t be too hasty to dismiss wearables just yet. IDC also forecasts that by 2018, wearables shipments will grow more than six times to 120 million.
To further emphasize the increasing presence of wearables, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) highlighted that 20% of Americans already own a wearable device. It’s a figure that matches tablet adoption rate in 2012, and given where we are now with tablets (40% of Americans already owning a tablet) the predictive growth for wearables should not be ignored. If wearables adoption rate is going to parallel tablets, it means that at some point (probably very soon) enterprises will start to plan when and how to enable their corporate apps for wearables.
For enterprises that are already thinking along these lines, here are some things to consider:
Set clear and simple goals
First and foremost, do not put wearables and mobile phones in the same category. They are two very different devices that serve different use cases. Because they are so different, factors such as usage time and space limitations on wearable will play a huge role in determining use case selection and functionality delivered. The bottom-line here is that a wearable watch will not perform many of the functionalities of a mobile phone, and it does not need to.
See Related: 2015 Dreamforce Session – UX and Design: Top Tips for Salesforce Apps on Mobile and Wearables.
Enterprises should start with having a clear definition of their purpose for having wearable apps, without assuming that users will need the app. If there is a gap within a use case that wearables can fill, then setting clear and simple goals would be a good first step.
Be specific in use cases
Wearables are meant to be an extension of the mobile phone. It is not designed (at least for now) to replace the mobile phone. Generally, use cases for wearables should be single actions that can be performed in seconds, not minutes. For use cases that require a lot of page or data navigation, especially data input, those would be best left for other devices. Setting realistic expectations for a plausible use case is key in
determining how fast a wearable app can be deployed and what its adoption rate will be.
Simplified user experience (UX)
When it comes to designing for a wearable watch, always think less, not more. While platform providers like Apple have provided plenty of guidance on UI/UX to make designing for watches more predefined than desktop, there is always room for improvement. As long as designers are focused on creating specific task(s) on wearables that allow for quick action(s), there will be little room for detours that complicate the functionality and lead to sub optimal UX.