Thermostat Version 1: Perfection Kills

In our ideation design class, we are designing the interface for a fictional thermostat. We started off by studying and modeling a Honeywell thermostat. Now we’ve come up with our own. Unfortunately for me the lesson I learned wasn’t how to come up with a kickass interface design – it was that striving for (theoretical) perfection can kill my creative flow.

The screens below are wireframes, which I like to compare to architectural blueprints. A wireframe is the skeletal framework of design, with minimal focus on the visual design. It shows the function and how major features of a design relate to one another. You may view these frames on google docs.

The first version of my thermostat interface.

Sometimes when I design I have the habit of thinking about all the details and problems I have to mitigate, before I’ve really worked out a general direction. Rather than focus on designing for a hero flow

The concept for the home screen, which shows the temperature read at 72°F has up and down arrows, as well as a settings icon. The main idea was that most users just want to click up or down to set the temperature to the desired state.

The settings are placed on another screen because those are features that a user might rarely use and if the want to they will likely be more motivated.

However, I got stuck when thinking about my thermostat design in relation to the nest. I wanted that killer interaction that informs all the design choices and unifies the controls. In the nest’s case, its the turning of the dial. When getting to my scheduling screen I wanted something elegant and simple. Everything I came up with didn’t match the nest – and of course it wouldn’t! It was my first iteration.

After working with Matt Franks, and sketching flows rather than complete screens, it let me get out lots of options. This helped me do things incrementally and (metaphorically) die in the quest for perfection. I used these designs in version 2 of my wireframes.