A Case Study in Improving the Usability of Lighting Color Controls:
What we learned from user testing and how we improved the product before launch-date.
Partnering with Product Management, User Design and Research, and Development.

Summary of the Problem and Solution:
Project Beginnings:
Within the smart home ecosystem lighting was the #3 most adopted product and area for growth, but there was no native color support, only 3rd party drivers supporting color and temperature bulbs.
Project: bring new lighting features to market. Support color and temperature bulb controls in mobile and tablet customer interfaces before trade show release.
Feature 1: Add color control to existing lighting product and OS design pattern ecosystem, supporting color and temperature bulbs.
Feature 2: Add Daylight mode, as a part of color controls, a wellness lighting schedule for bringing outdoor lighting indoors.
Discovery and workshopping with a group of lighting designers and installers:
UX and Product Collaboration: Getting to know the needs of luxury residential lighting, main use cases, and installer need.
Competitive Research: Studying features and design patterns.
Layout Testing: Narrowed the focus to a simplified interface for the customer, and advanced controls in the admin tool.
Problem: Usability challenge emerged in Beta
• Moving towards product release, beta installer feedback challenged usability.
Feedback that the color controls were not discoverable, and "too buried"  behind the long-press gesture, a legacy OS gesture.
• A quick round of user testing with customers was needed to validate the friction, which it did. The long-press was not discoverable, and new users were not finding the color controls.
• Can we solve this problem quickly, and make the needed changes before release? 
Results:
• As a result of rapid user testing and design iterations, an established design pattern in  the OS was challenged, and a more discoverable solution was found, which updated the design library components for row items not only in lighting, but across the product. The > symbol was found to be discoverable and became the new icon for main light editing, including "changing color".
• User testing brought the gesture back to the customer. The success criteria was if a new user looked at the interface, could they change the color of their bulb without instruction or training.
• Fast iteration and testing brought about a better result before release, and our user testing process matured in the organization, by bringing it back to the customer.

The solution challenged the existing interaction ecosystem, but user tested with more success.
Process more in depth:
1- User-testing of existing interaction validated friction with customers. 
• User Testing validated beta user feedback that Color Controls were not discoverable enough.  We ran a user test with the general population and validated that users were not successfully discovering their color controls behind the long press.
• We tested task completion rate for changing a color bulb and had low success rate upon first use.

2- User testing - Adding Onboarding Screen Describing the Long-Press:
Design approach: Add an onboarding screen to introduce the long-press gesture for accessing color control.
Will users be more successful in accessing their color controls if we teach them about this interaction? 
3- User Testing for Task-Completion and Comprehension:
Testing the ecosystem of our legacy OS and UI design gestures:
    • Bulb Single-Tap - to power a bulb on/off
    • Bulb Long-Press - Open color controls
    • Long-Press to Edit or Access Advanced Features 

Usability Testing - Adding Onboarding Gestures:
    • Add an Onboarding Screen to introduce the gesture of the long-press to access color controls. 
       "If we teach them about the long-press, will they succeed in completing the task of changing their color bulb?"
    • Tested wording alone, wording and icons that show gesture.

Results: 
     • Even with added onboarding screen, no iterations with onboarding were successful enough to move forward.
     • Next steps: Continue to iterate and test again.
Sample pages from one of the reports from User Testing
4- User Testing results, led to a design and interaction pivot - Introducing a New Design Pattern to the UI
Due to poor test results in prior tests, we abandon the long-press gesture, and change the design pattern to access color controls from the Chevron > with greater discoverability and task success rate. 

Problem: 
Due to poor test results in prior tests adding onboarding communication, then testing wording vs. images of gestures, further iteration was needed. Test another design pattern in pursuit of a more successful discovery and task completion rate.

Objective 2:
Redesign the row component for a Light, and add a chevron to edit and access the color controls. No onboarding added.

Test for the Question
Adding a Chevron > to the end of a row, will a new user successfully complete the task of changing their color bulb?

Test Results:
With minimal discovery (testing the bulb icon and the Chevron), within 2 clicks, there was a 100% successful discovery of accessing lighting controls. A positive update. 

Next Steps:
• Development spike to size an updated component.
• Edits through the UI need to be defined.
• Holistic updates are made to the UI to treat the (>) icon as a discoverable way to edit.
Summary: Cost, Key Results, and a Positive Path Forward

Cost/timeline:
User testing took 5 weeks under $300 for unmoderated user tests with the general population.

Updates to Edit, using the Chevron are more discoverable and successful:
User testing and design iterations led to a better user experience for our end customers with better discoverability and usability, updated before the end of beta testing and release to our professional channel.

Additional Updates were also made thru this discovery, to improve the product:
• Icon updates - colorized bulbs to show the color state - a collaboration with the mobile development team and driver developers.
• Update to UI row component - moves Light Bulb to the left, and uses the Chevron for primary edits with successful user discovery and task completion with no onboarding. 
Next Steps:
After release, we expect engagement with color controls and continue to learn from customers.

Data will be reviewed in cadence to measure user engagement, to understand their real-world preference for how they use their color controls both in product discovery, and in using the product over time. Understanding how customers choose to customize their lighting UI in Phone, and Tablet interfaces will inform future iteration.