Feifei Deng, Dee Song, Jade Zhao
Lead product designer / Product Manager
12 Weeks (Dec.2019 - Mar.2020)
Octopus is a smart hub for parenting, which connects different smart devices and enables them to work together. Octopus frees parents' hands, tracks their baby's growth and centralizes parenting life.
Intrigued by this problem space, I embarked on this project in 2019 and was lucky enough to team up with two exceptionally talented designers later on
The transition to parenthood is extremely challenging for first time parents.
More than one in seven mothers and up to one in 10 fathers experience postnatal depression or anxiety
Approximately one-quarter of Millennial Moms say they would pay $50 per month to have someone manage their busy lives.
Around two-thirds of couples find that the quality of their relationship declines within five years of the birth of a first child.
Octopus - A Smart hub for parenting
Free parents' hands. Track baby's growth. Centralize parenting life.
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Based on all these insights from our user research and market study, we summarized our design principles and set the frame work for our future design work.
Streamline and optimize parenting life to free parents’ hands and save their time
Empower parents to manage tools/data/tasks related to parenting in one place to simplify their life
Raise parents’ awareness of each other’s contributions to collaborate better and build mutual support
Bring specific efficient solutions based on parents’ unique needs
It connects different smart devices from different manufactures to the central hub
It enables different devices to talk to each other and work together in new ways to free parents' hands
The cloud-hosted appliance assimilates real-time data from the disparate devices used to help parents to collaborate and understand their baby's growth.
How it helps in real context
After connecting devices with the Octopus App, a preset night care routine is automatically generated by the system.
When the webcam detects Nora is about to wake up, it sends out data to the bedside lamp to wake up Melissa. Meanwhile, the webcam catches Nora sucking her fists, which usually is a sign of a hunger baby. In response, the webcam triggers smart milk bottle to warm milk at the preset temperature
Eric wakes up and receives a notification from Octopus, regarding what tasks Melissa completed last night. Meanwhile, it reminds him that he can help with - “baby laundry.” He uses the pre-set routine made by Melissa to finish it quickly before leaving home.
Eric goes to work. It’s a busy day full of meetings. In the break, Eric receives a notification from Octopus. It’s the webcam that captured a short video of Nora’s smiling. Eric enjoys this fun moment. Octopus also reminds him to buy diapers and lets him know what happened at home
Equipped with the content foundation of the site map, we created user flows to think through possible paths for each feature. These five key flows including:
Users will start the journey with Octopus from the Web. Here, they can learn what Octopus is and how Octopus could help with their parenting life. By simply completing a questionnaire, Octopus customizes solutions that fit the users' unique needs in parenting!
After connecting devices to the App, Octopus generates customized smart routines to make devices talk with each other and work together to make parenting life more manageable. Users can customize the routine to fit their needs better.
At the device management center, parents can manage disparate devices in one place. They also can quickly start a device for one-time use.
Octopus provides collaborative task management not only for daily tasks but also integrates these tasks with smart routines to help family members better collaborate.
Cloud-hosted appliance assimilates real-time data from the disparate devices to help parents to track and record their baby’s growth and exciting development
Parents will not miss fun moments of their baby and will better understand each others’ contribution by highlighting actions and sharing activity history.
We did 5 rounds of user tests in different fidelities with 12 participants. We iterated based on feedback and previous research insights.
Previous research informed us there is no-one-size-fits-all solution in parenting. It's essential to enable users to customize their routine to fit their unique needs. However, the result of our testing with our the paper prototype showed customization process is too challenging for users due to its complexity and unfamiliar concepts.
Thus, balancing the tension between functionality and learnability is the first challenge I was facing.
Based on user testing feedback, I identified that the primary use case is novice users who want to enable a routine with the least effort. In response, I simplified the flow. The system will now automatically generate a preset routine right after connecting the devices with the App. Meanwhile, I kept the flexibility to customize the routine settings and to create a new routine for intermediate and advanced users
Another big challenge I faced is managing information density. Too much information on the page will put users in a mental straightjacket. It’s exactly the mistake I made in the Mid-Fi. As one of our participants said, “Too many action buttons on one page, I don’t know where I should start”.
However, if there is too little information, it will become cumbersome to reach meaningful insights.
Thus, striking the right balance between Cleanliness and Clarity is the second challenge I faced
It’s the nature of the beast: Complex flows require the prioritization of features at the expense of visibility to others. I adopted the principle that user’s interest should drive information priority.
We started building our visual identity by identifying the main brand adjectives that would represent the product: Caring, Innovative, Reliable.
With the established design direction, we created a Style Guide and UI Kit for Octopus. These are living documents that can be updated and added to as the site (and brand) develops and evolves. By documenting the UI patterns and components we use in the design, we can better ensure that they are repeated and, therefore, consistent across the product
At the beginning of this project, I didn't expect a smart hub would be this complicated. I thought we could just connect different devices and let them talk to each other and work together. Our four month project deepened my understanding of smart home and IoT technology. There are still a lot of things we couldn't cover in such a short time. If I had a chance to continue, I would keep working on data privacy, compatibility and reliability of the system, and multiple-user scenarios.
The success of designing a complex system is to seek a balance between simplicity and functionality. The designer needs to make trade-off carefully while holding a big picture in mind.
While dealing with a complex system, the designer needs to understand and act from micro to larger macro sizes, from short periods to long ones(like product life spam). This allows the product to serve multiple stakeholders in different situations. Moreover, there are interactions between the levels of scale and abstraction..