From my notebook:

"...The goal of the survey is to gauge potential customer interest in Smart Home systems, specifically thermostats and security camera systems. It also aims to uncover any skepticisms on the part of the potential customer, which will be important for the app to address."

So the actual goal became to create a perception survey that was qualitative in order to reveal concerns through open answers, but with quantitative elements for functionality and desired featured. This will help to define the focus for information shown in the Hone app. The survey was posted to Facebook, Twitter and an IT department at an English university.

I also have to admit that I have fallen a little bit behind with this blog. This is disappointing, but was unavoidable. Between writing the survey, scheduling interviews, writing the interviews, transcribing the interviews all the while processing survey data, I have had my hands full. Therefore I am going to add a few short posts featuring my survey results and then come back and reflect upon and include thoughts that I have jotted down in my notebook. As I am writing this retroactively and it is now 20/03 (I finally finished compiling this post on 27/03

  • this was apparently a BIG week of thinking while travelling on trains). Data processing is both wondrous and time-consuming!

Some thoughts:

  • I had started out with some service safaris as a form of early competition analysis (service safari's are a tool that can be used in service design and are mentioned in Stickdorn and Schneider's book, This is Service Design Thinking (2014, pp. 154-155)). This involved going to B&Q and Maplin as a customer and then considering the experience of locating smart home devices in each shop and then also finding out information about the smart home devices by looking at information in the shop and also by asking the sales representatives. Each service safari was documented with an audio reflection and photos where possible in my Evernote notebook.
  • My survey was influenced by this article from UXBooth about how to Create an Effective Customer Experience Survey (Prelicz-Zawadzka, 2016) and I followed advice provided in The Postgraduate Research Handbook (Wisker, 2008). Furthermore, I found tips in Curedale's Service Design 250 Essential Methods (2013, p. 215) to be particularly helpful - just for timely reminders about what to include and phrasing to avoid etc.
  • I paid particular attention to the branching logic in the survey, using Google Forms to divert users to different questions. After my service safaris I felt sure that I needed to find out what had succeeded for existing smart home device owners, so that I could find their pain points. In this way I took some subtle influence from Jobs to Be Done (Ulwick, 2016), but I also wanted my survey to be more approachable. As the smart homes market is an emerging market, I wanted it to be more personable than listing jobs. I also asked users for some thoughts on colour schemes and logos at the end as I felt like by taking the survey the users were on a journey with me and they deserved an aesthetic reward at the end.
  • I felt it was important to record demographics in the survey and the interviews to ensure that I could make a decision about whether the information was relevant or not after the data analysis. I used the harmonisation information from the National Statistics Harmonisation Group (HSHG) as part of the Government Statistical Service (GSS, 2015), specifically age bracket. I also used "gender identification" as opposed to "sex" for equality reasons. I felt that other cultural factors were less relevant to user motivation and intentionality and also in the interest of keeping the survey at a healthy 6 mins or less I decided to ask more about households and cohabitation rather than familial relationships.
  • I found Elen de Vries questions to support content strategy (presented on 6/3) to be particularly helpful and I decided to use them as inspiration for my interview questions. Finally, I referred back to my Chris How "Shit question bingo" card (How, 2016), from the UX Camp Redux event (June 14, 2016): to try and make sure that my questions were free of excrement. Unfortunately, I didn't quite manage it, but they will be better next time.
  • I took some influence from Jobs to Be Done for the interviews by asking interviewees to reflect on the purpose and proposed features of the Hone during second half of the interview. More on that in a future post.
  • Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention Abby Covert. I had not heard of her prior to Jenni's presentation on Information Architecture (27/2/17) and her thinking is right up my street. I found the following SlideShare presentation helpful when considering questions (specifically slides 24-29).

Key decisions and ideas of the week

Based on the initial data analysis, pursuing presentation of the thermostat alone within the app is the best plan for the MVP. Other devices can be added later and might even have the potential to be in-app purchases (I’ll think about this). The potential owners and current owners surveyed were not that interested in the security cameras as compared to a thermostat. There was also more concern around privacy and security with this device. Also in order to do a really good job in the time that I have available, I need to focus on one design pattern to show as even with one smart home device the app is still potentially very complicated.

Agile scrum is not the answer, but it was a useful "Brain Dump" as advocated in Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal (2013, pp. 423-434). I'm certainly glad that I undertook that mental cleansing process prior to writing survey/interview questions. The truth is that some of the stories in the product backlog are physical or technical requirements and these can not be completed until I have found out more about the potential users and their tasks. I probably need to be even more stern about what makes it into the minimum viable product as I feel that there are too many user stories (currently 26) and some are too broad. They are definitely robust enough to be broken down into tasks though and can inform a future user journey mapping process.


Covert, A. (n.d.). Collaborative information architecture [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from

Curedale, R. (2013). Service design 250 essential methods (1.1. ed.). USA: Design Community College Inc.

de Vries, E. (2017). Elevator pitch [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from

Governmental Statistical Service (2015, May). Harmonised concepts and questions for social data sources: Primary principles. Demographic information, household composition and relationships (Version 3.1). Retrieved from

How, C. (2016). How to get better answers from asking better questions [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from

Prelicz-Zawadzka, A. (2016, August 9). How to create an effective customer experience survey. UXBooth. Retrieved from

Portigal, S. (2013). Interviewing users: How to uncover compelling insights [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from

Stickdorn M., & Schneider, J. (Eds.). (2014).This is service design thinking. The Netherlands: BIS Publishers.

Ulwick, A. W. (2016). Jobs to be Done: Theory to Practice [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from

Wisker, G. (2008). The Postgraduate Research Handbook (2nd Ed.). England: Palgrave Macmillan.