Zuli

Designing an app simple enough for any user type while retaining enough capabilities to satisfy power-users.

Challenge

Zuli — formerly known as Brightblu — is an early stage startup in San Francisco. Their focus is to create a mobile solution to home automation by making it accessible to any smartphone user. Their product is a Smartplug that allows smartphone owners to control standard outlets through Bluetooth, enabling users to turn anything on and off from the touch of a screen. EchoUser was challenged with designing Zuli’s iOS app. We designed the app end-to-end, from user research to wireframes and testing, on to high fidelity mockups and prototypes.

Approach

User Interviews

Through customer research and interviews, we discovered what users wanted in the app: control of lights and electronics on a room-by-room basis as well as a way to monitor energy usage. We identified key features, both from these interviews as well as an exercise with the client. In this unique case, the hardware informed some of the product’s more unique features, like dimming and turning on or off based on proximity. We collaborated with Zuli’s engineers, and worked to match technological capabilities with the needs of customers.

Once these capabilities were determined, we began designing the app itself. Our team aimed for simplicity, but wanted to enable power-users to network several Zuli Smartplugs at once.

App Design and Information Architecture

Using the results of the research phase, we devised an information architecture that mapped the application to a user’s understanding of the system. Sections included Setup, Energy Usage Tracking, Profiles, Home Screen, Device Settings, and Space Settings. Working with our developer counterparts at Zuli, we were able to bring a fully functioning app to life that encompassed the complexity of users’ needs while maintaining a simple interface and user flow.

Impact

After several iterations, we finalized the designs for the Zuli app, a new multi-faceted product that would control the smartplugs, monitor energy, and allow a user to “set-it-and-forget-it.” One way that we provided Zuli with a different and fun user experience was by providing unique gestures. For example: From the home screen, a user can press and hold to open the dimmer (if applicable). The user can adjust the dimmer with a drag up/down motion, and quick swipe to the left to confirm.

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