At Loft, we begin every project with the end user in mind. Understanding the person, patient, and/or customer that will be interacting with a product is essential to ensuring that the technology adds value to their lives. And in my opinion, the best and most efficient way to understand the end user is to get to know them through user research.
Throughout my years of conducting user research, there have been many instances when an insight from an interview completely changed our understanding of the end user’s desires, wants, or needs—and in some cases, who our idea of the end user was entirely. These discoveries are always invaluable, serving as breakthrough moments in the design process.
In the case of Hayward Pools, the company’s integrated pool control system, the OmniLogic, was technologically powerful but the app was confusing to users and difficult to navigate. So, the Hayward team came to Loft with a request: refine the OmniLogic app experience to make it simpler to use, while also elevating the user experience to match their status as a market-leader in pool care.
Our objective with this project was to use qualitative and ethnographic research to inform improvements to the design and usability of the OmniLogic app. Hayward immediately saw the value of this approach, and knew that an emphasis on user research, paired with app analytics, could help them develop a product roadmap with additional functionality and added-value features.
Our customer interviews quickly revealed that the ways people use their pool vary widely. There are those who use the pool for family recreation, those who hardly swim but enjoy the ambiance it gives the backyard, and those who use the pool daily for physical therapy or exercise. The revamped OmniLogic app needed to work for each of these users, whether they used the app every day or once a month.
On top of the different use cases, there were different tech personalities involved, often within the same household. The OmniLogic would need to be navigable and user friendly for everyone—from the tech savvy to the tech intimidated. To keep things organized, we split the users into three main user archetypes:
It was through getting to know these three archetypes that we made a surprising discovery: there were unseen biases hindering our understanding of the true day-to-day user of the app.
In our household interviews, we uncovered a pattern: the man of the house often identified as the “tech guy.” He wanted to be impressed by the technological power of the app, and be surprised and delighted by its advanced features.
His wife on the other hand would express that she couldn’t use the app—all things technological were her husband’s domain. At surface level, it appeared that the man would be the core user of the OmniLogic, and that his wife would rarely interact with it. However, it turned out this was a bias that was impeding the evolution of the app. When probed further, the woman would often admit that she had a desire to use the app more, but the confusing interface made it difficult to use. She was looking for a simple solution that helped her make informed decisions about how to maintain the pool.
This was a turning point in the design process. In developing any app, our objective is to invite tentative users in and give them confidence, while delighting tech savvy users. We used the feedback from these interviews to inform the design of a simple and intuitive interface, with meaningful and useful information presented at just the right moment. Now, instead of navigating through several different screens and pressing different buttons to heat the pool for the kids after school, our hesitant user could just press, “afternoon swim” and let the app make the rest of the decisions. And her tech savvy husband? He can tweak and toy around with controls to his heart’s content.
Ultimately, our goal with any project is to make things that make change, to make things that make people’s lives easier. This powerhouse pool tool is now approachable and convenient for any member of the household.