Design for Wearables 101

Design for Wearables 101

Wearable devices are some of the hottest tech on the market today. We’re living in a world where people want access to endless information as quickly as possible. Glancing at your watch and being able to check everything from your heart rate, to your text messages can be incredibly convenient. As of 2019, the latest numbers revealed that around 1 quarter of adults used a wearable device at least once a month in the US. What’s more, the number of options available for wearable devices is increasing. It’s not just smart watches anymore, but wristbands, glasses, earphones, and smart rings.  Wearable devices present a unique set of challenges when it comes to development and design. If the chances are that you’ll need to start branching into wearable apps one day soon, the following tips will help to keep you on the right path.  Design for Glanceability Glanceability is a strange term to consider when you’re a digital designer.  Most of the time, you want people to do a lot more than just glance at your content. If you’re designing a website, for instance, then you want people to keep looking at what you have to offer for at least a few minutes. However, when you’re designing for a smartwatch, you’re appealing to a selection of people who want to spend as little time interacting with tech as possible. Making your UI glanceable means reducing the interface to its most basic visual level, so that people can consume information as fast as possible.  For instance, the Bring Grocery Shopping app for smartwatches converts items on your shopping list to visual icons so that you can instantly see what you need to buy. Once you’ve picked up an item, you tap it on your watch to turn it from red to green.  Focus on making sure that your audience can consume any of the content on their smartwatch within a period of five seconds or less. If it takes more than 10 seconds for someone to interact with your smartwatch app, you might need to go back to the drawing board.  Keep it Simple The principle of KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid), is pretty common in web design.  No matter what kind of interface you might be designing for, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re not cluttering any visual space with information that your users don’t want or need. However, if you’re designing for smartwatch apps, then it’s even more important to keep things simple.  The KISS Principle means making sure that you don’t add more actions or information to your wearables than your user needs. Think about how you can keep the interactions between the user and the device as brief as possible.  For instance, if users need to reply to a message on their smartwatch, then they’re going to want to avoid wasting time typing on a tiny screen. That’s why apps like Telegram for the Android watch allow you to send canned responses and emojis instead. Design for singular, focused tasks that allow your users to get things done fast.  Reduce User Interactions Web designers are often focused on making websites and mobile apps that make users want to click, interact and engage as frequently as possible. However, you need to take a very different approach when you’re designing for wearable apps.  The most effective apps on wearable devices require as little action as possible for users.  » Read More

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