UX in terms of wireless networks and mobile devices is a concept that is complex and intricate. It also demands a high level of creativity. It has everything to do with how a user interacts with the wireless network; most of the time through mobile apps—and that means everyone from the novice user to those who are more tech-savvy must be taken into consideration. With wireless networks now starting to incorporate contextual-based interaction through the use of beacons and mobile apps a successful approach to wireless UX needs to possess an analytical side as well as an intuitive and innovative one.
Now that new technologies are being introduced—things like beacons and the Internet of Things (IoT)—mobile apps need to extend further than what’s happening on the screens of devices. A new layer of challenges lies ahead for Wi-Fi UX design. Our modern day Wi-Fi networks must start considering the physical space as it becomes an essential dimension to offering modern day mobility.
Efficiency and Simplicity in Location-Services UX Design
Location-based services like beacons thrive when simplicity and efficiency are at the very core of the design. It’s about creating mobile apps that users enjoy because they are allowed to focus their attention on the real-life experience that is happening around them. It’s an art form, learning to make the line between technology and reality so seamless that they are effortlessly intertwined. An app shouldn’t become the focus, but an extension of the wireless experience.
The key to UX design where location and proximity play a large part is to keep it subtle. It’s about being helpful but not invasive, enjoyable but not creepy. It’s trying to reward the individual tastes of each person by letting them pick and choose what is valuable to them in a simple manner that makes sense.
It’s important to always understand who your target audience is and how they will be interacting with your network. What’s important to them, what’s valuable? It’s always about context.
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Designing Beacon-powered Apps
There are some critical concepts to keep in mind when designing beacon-powered apps and being successful when deploying location-based or contextual-based services:
Make sure the experience is continuous
Beacons broadcast using radio waves, this means external things can influence and disrupt the user experience. When placing and designing your beacon deployment keep this in mind, consider beacon technology that incorporates algorithms to help improve their performance.
When you are asking for permission to use people’s locations and other information, they are more likely to accept the terms if you clearly spell out what each aspect is used for. It alleviates concerns, and lets the user feel as though they are not being taken advantage of.
Take the whole app design into consideration
Beacons are new and exciting, go ahead and use the technology in the background, just don’t let it get in the way of when, why and how the foreground is used—it’s a crucial part of an app’s success as well. Both have their uses and advantages but it’s important to understand which will offer the most value to your customers or users.
Location, location, location
Since beacons are site specific, it’s important to take into account the venue as a whole. Are there limitations? What about obstacles? When and how far apart do you want events triggered? If an on-site test of beacon placement is not possible, make sure to send your code- and configuration-writer as much detailed information as you can.
This means photos, written descriptions or anything else that will aid in the creation of smooth beacon interactions. When you set up your beacons make sure there are no obstructions between them and the user’s device, adjust broadcasting power on a case-by-case basis and go ahead and experiment where it works best.
The practices surrounding location-based services contextual wireless design in the age of beacons and IoT are in the early stages. As people experiment, develop, innovate and create, strategies and principles will only get clearer. The key is to stay in-the-know, and continue to evolve in how you look at interactive wireless experiences, always keeping in mind that you should keep it simple to use while being extremely valuable to your users.