TouchWiz

Bringing simplicity and smart home convergence to Samsung’s mobile devices

In 2015, Samsung’s HQ commissioned the UX Mobile Lab in San Francisco, CA to redesign its proprietary mobile operating system. The process involved using TouchWiz’s current state as a point of departure to build an OS that was more simple, less cluttered, and more predictable to users. The project lasted roughly 6 months and involved more than 25 HCI researchers in total: from motion and computer graphics specialists to sound engineers and UX researchers. The process consisted mainly of 3 major phases: (1) Thorough user evaluation and competitive analyses between different operating systems, (2) following ideation and low-fidelity prototypes that explored key interaction ideas to gather user feedback and validate assumptions. The last phase focused on developing further unique features and system architecture proposed by the team. In this last stage, both design and engineering teams worked together to create a working prototype.

Discipline: Mobile development, HCI
Role: Lead designer
Team: 25 designers, researchers and engineers
Year: 2014

TouchWiz’s redesign focused mainly on addressing existing problems with its current OS implementation at that time (2014). From our initial research phase, the 4 major categories in which users manifested a big discontentment were:

  • Incomplete: interaction flow is often incomplete and fragmented, users are constantly interrupted and asked to take additional actions.
  • Redundant: there are too many options that perform the same actions and serve similar purposes. Too much flexibility leads to massive cognitive overload.
  • Cluttered: the interface is crowded with too many elements. The design language varies across the entire OS, leading to visual confusion and lack of hierarchy.
  • Unpredictable: too many inconsistencies across different levels and areas including visual identity, gesture recognition, transition effects, features and menu options.

My role

Aside from helping the team to solve major usability problems, I led the ideation that focused on creating unique features that helped to set the OS apart from the competition. The strategy consisted of repositioning Samsung; from a follower to an HCI lead. As a result, the effort I led developed a range of unique features that included: easily accessible space to manage device connectivity (thermostats to headphones) that leveraged Samsung’s unique Bluetooth directional positioning system; aggregation of different communications under the same user (e.g. incoming messages from the same user sent via different apps were aggregated in the same area); unique task switcher that leveraged playfulness and physics simulation without compromising usability.

Process

  1. Comparative analysis between multiple operating systems
  2. Design ideation
  3. User testing, validation, and feedback
  4. UI/Motion/Sound Design
  5. Final user evaluation
  6. High-fidelity prototype and system development
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