Gate Labs was started by two former Google Glass founding team members in 2014 to solve the market need for secure home access. Gate is the first full-featured smart lock, combining a motion activated camera, a keypad lock, and speakers into one device to provide the ultimate access solution for the home. The company raised over $400,000 from their Indiegogo campaign late 2016 and is expected to roll out their flagship smart lock nationally in Fall 2017.
TomYum engaged with Gate to work on several projects and serve as their remote design team. Of these projects was the conceptualization and design of the Gate mobile app. The app serves as the control center for home owners to access all of their smart lock features such as communicating with guests at the door or assigning virtual keys to trusted individuals.
Getting Started: Understanding Requirements
We kicked off the project by learning more about Gate on three levels: (i) Business Goals, (ii) Technical Constraints, and (iii) Design/Brand Requirements.
Understanding the business goals gave us a clear picture of Gate’s target market and intended revenue streams, all of which informed the design of the app. For example, we learned that in addition to tech-savvy homeowners, Gate wanted to be a solution for every household member. Therefore the question, “can our parents or grandparents figure the app out?” was big consideration when designing the mobile experience. Furthermore we learned that besides hardware sales revenue, Gate had cloud service offerings that needed a home within the app. This too was something we kept in mind throughout the design phase. Knowing the business goals also gave us a point of reference to circle back to in instances where we needed to prioritize certain designs for features and flows.
Our process also involved understanding the constraints of the engineering team. We wanted our designs to be realizable by the team, which meant being aware of engineering timelines as well as their technical limits. Since Gate had a specific launch deadline to hit, the engineers followed a concise list of weekly tasks and we needed to accomodate that by keeping the designs simple and being responsive to questions.
Lastly, the design requirements were informed by learning about the business goals and understanding the technical constraints. Since Gate was a new company, the app presented an opportunity to start from a blank canvas for branding.
Design and Research
Our design process was highly iterative and we reacted quickly to ongoing beta user feedback. The insight coming from the Gate team was also critical in improving the app experience. We also checked in with the engineering team regularly to ensure our designs were realizable. Our transparent and collaborative process allowed us identify issues early on and further simplify our designs to ensure a timely launch of Gate’s mobile experience.
As an example, from our feedback sessions we learned that some beta users still needed additional guidance on how to physically install Gate on their door. Although Gate provides printed instructions, people preferred to see step-by-step visuals. Our solution was to introduce an Installation Wizard during the onboarding flow of the mobile experience. This flow shows users the entire installation process, broken down into easy to follow 5-second videos.
Gate’s mobile experience is an ongoing project and should be seen as V1.0 for now. TomYum continues to work closely with the team to iterate on the app to improve the user experience and raise the bar of its look and feel.
Prior to the Indiegogo campaign the Gate team needed a website to pique visitor interest and lead them to the crowdfunding page. We worked under a tight deadline and delivered a high converting website. In addition, we created a visual language for the campaign which we applied across all promotional designs.
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