Ideal Thermostat – Iteration #2

This week I am living the saying “one step forward, two steps back.”

Since last week’s iteration of the thermostat, I have been searching for a way to solve the problems I encountered during think aloud user testing, the biggest of which was issues understanding the scheduling interface. I also tried to make the current state of the system mode, fan, and scheduling understandable at a glance by adding text under the icon.

View my full annotated thermostat wireframes iteration 2 here.

Results Think Aloud Testing Iteration 2:

  1. The added current state text on the system mode, fan, and scheduling actually added even more confusion as to what the icon would do. Many participants believed that the icons represented the only options available.
  2. I decided to switch from a visual schedule to temperature and time pairs, which was well received during my think aloud testing.
  3. The physical switch to turn off the entire thermostat is being overlooked by participants. Most look for a on/off switch on the screen first.

I have been thinking hard about what people’s schedules look like. While many people work 9 to 5, a shift away from this kind of work schedule is trending. More and more people work from home or have inconsistent work hours. Current thermostat scheduling, assumes that users know ahead of time when they will leave for work or go to bed and that it will be consistently the same. Even a learning thermostat like the Nest would have a hard time learning one person’s constantly changing schedule, let alone a whole family. Shouldn’t our technology evolve take into account the lifestyles we actually live?

With that concept in mind, I have decided to add a home and away toggle. The user would set what they want the away temperature to be in scheduling preferences. Then, just a simple touch of the toggle before leaving would change the temperature to that preset preference and override any schedule that was in place until the user returned home. People with a regular routine still have the option of creating a schedule so that thermostat would be set to a preferred temperature when they wake up, during the day, or sleeping, but they would also benefit from the ability to easily switch to away mode on those rare occasions that their schedule changed.

I obviously need to correct the issues I am having with the system mode, fan, and routine scheduling, but I am most excited to work through this home/away setting and create a task for that over the next week.