How to manage user expectations in design of smart products


Smart products that adapt to aspects of the users’ activity, context or personality have become commonplace. With more and more products which act intelligently emerging in the market place, users often end up expecting to interact with them more like they would among themselves, as humans. In the first decades of the 21st century, technical limitations keep us, as designers, from being able to create smart products that fully live up to those expectations. Consequently, managing the users’ expectations of the interaction as you’re moving through the design process for a smart product is absolutely essential. Here, you’ll get a firm grounding of the basic psychology of how people interact with smart products and guidelines for designing smart products that do not break with the users’ expectations.

What are smart products?

In everyday life, we are surrounded by smart products and user interfaces that can perform an awe-inspiring range of actions. In this context, we define as products that gather information about their users and their use context, and process the information so as to adapt their behaviour to the user or to a specific context. Examples could be sun blinds that automatically lower when they detect that the sun is shining or a travel app that suggests new vacation locations based on where you have previously been – maybe even reading them aloud in a natural voice. Basically, any product that gathers information about the user or various context factors and uses it in a smart way to automatically adapt its behaviour. In some cases, the user’s interaction with smart products seems more like communication than tool use. For example, when you use voice commands that resemble natural speech to interact with your smart home and your home answers your commands in an equally natural way, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve had a brief conversation with your abode.

Read the source article at The Interactive Design Foundation.