UI & UX Design for the Connected Home
Designing the Nest thermostat app required moving away from the traditional client/studio dynamic. Discover why it takes a village to build a Nest and the tips we learned along the way.
What We Did
While our lips are sealed with a bulletproof NDA, we can share valuable lessons we learned along the way. The bulk of the Nest thermostat project was focused on the app, but we also spent time creating meaningful interactions for the embedded device, making our designs come to life.
Designing a New Nest
When Nest approached us to help design the thermostat app, we barely had time to blush — and that would be a trend that carried through the entire project. We know their vision for the future is amazing — but that probably doesn’t surprise you if you’ve ever used one of their products.
While our lips are sealed with an NDA, we thought it was important to share the valuable tips we learned during this project.
Communication is key to every project; that goes without saying. But when you’re three time zones away and working to deliver work at the end of every week, it’s especially important.
During this project, and as an extension of their team, we had to absorb an enormous amount of meticulous details their team intuitively knew. We often compared it to learning how to speak their language. It required we move, work, and talk like a team. Our team of three needed to stay on pace with Nest’s team of 30, all of whom were up against incredible deadlines.
In addition to daily project management check-ins, we relied on Google Hangouts to show work, receive feedback, and check each other’s pulse. The team at Nest leaned on us to learn quickly, design delightfully and accurately, then revise accordingly and deliver promptly. Design feedback from Nest was just as it was intended to be: direct, concise, and comprehensive.
In the end, we learned about the value of cross-country (and in-person) communication, thinking fast, and all the work that goes into those beautiful products. We came away with a real appreciation for great collaboration and the wonders it can do for a project.
Quantity and Quality
Our design team balanced perfection and production.
With interactions to be prototyped and thousands of screens to be delivered, one inaccurate measurement could cascade into a world of revision pain. At the same time, there was a significant amount of math required to design a number of screens across a variety of devices.
To be a success, our team had to move confidently yet quickly, so we developed a consistent workflow with Nest that set weekly deadlines, team expectations, and a general project pace.
New App Version Launched
And just like that, on June 17th, 2015, Nest pushed out the latest version of their app to devices around the world.
“The redesigned Nest app 5.0 brings together all three Nest products, across multiple platforms, for the first time, making it easier to access and control Nest products.”
A few months later, Nest also released the third generation of their flagship thermostat. While the bulk of this project was focused on the app, we spent a few weeks creating meaningful, distance-relevant interactions for the embedded device, so it was great to see some of our designs fully realized.
Our work with Nest was an experience in thinking, communicating, and working as a very tight team — our success was largely in part to this dynamic. We can’t wait to get back in the trenches with them again.