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IoT and Consumer Products

The client, a home electronics company, had just gone through a transition and needed guidance on where they should focus their business. Our goal was to discover users' needs, pain points and opportunities associated with their enjoyment of home audio.

Design director

Design lead

> Experience Designer/Researcher

My role: conducting ethnographic research - interviews, synthesis, producing peronas and defining use cases.


The team and I conducted in-home interviews of home audio enthusiasts end evaluated responses (aka "diaries") from participants who used D-Scout user interview survey. Our coverage included users from a variety of countries and demographics.


We were able to identify key insights about consumer behavior, noting cultural differences, and used our findings as a basis for generating personas.

How we did it

A. Ethnographic Research - Interviews

We spent two weeks conducting a dozen interviews in select locations in the US and Europe. Each participant was a self-described "audiophile". I observed how each participant interacted with his equipment, pain points, etc. and asked probing questions about his habits, relationship with technology, background, etc. and took notes accordingly (note: all participants happened to have been men).

Example of a one-page summary I provided for each interviewee.

At the end of each day using a template I gathered everyone's notes and summarized on an Excel template, sorting by demographics, years involved in hobby, technical know-how, as well as pain points, needs, etc. Eventually I started identifying trends, and would share out updates with the group.

B. Digital Diaries

Using dscout, a digital research platform, we were able to recruit almost 300 participantes to share their thoughts on using home theater equipment through survey response and video. The diaries were sorted by demographic, making it easy to review by age, location, etc. Although the diaries weren't as in-depth as the interviews, this method did provide a wider overview of users' habits, needs and pain points, and then included these insights into our analysis.

At the end of Week 1 we started clustering the bits of information gleaned from the interviews to visualize trends. We built upon this as we proceeded into Week 2 of our interviews and reviewing the digital diaries.

Empathy mapping & personas

Toward the end of Week 2 we began outlining personas, for each one developing an empathy map. We had started with 5 personas, and as we started mapping we had reduced our personas to 2, based on what we saw as overlapping data points.

We ended up with two personas-


Based on our research we were able to derive key insights on users' needs:

  • A "one stop shop" to control all media, i.e. universal remote 
  • Easy navigation across unit for content, sound control, etc.
  • Suggested content based on preferences
  • Simple access to "how to" for assistance
  • Ability to listen to music throughout the home, customized per multiple users' preferences. For example, wife listening to jazz in the living room while her husband is enjoying classic rock in the kitchen.

Users also either expressed interest in voice-activation, or based on their pain points and habits, might be consumers of this technology. There were also users "in the middle" who might not be hands-on yet had that one piece of equipment that required someone with a stronger understanding of the unit than they had.

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