Fancy Wearable Devices – How Will UX Adapt?

BY: MAGGIE DONOVAN Jan 27th, 2015

Wearable technology is rapidly evolving, and the Apple event this past September seemed to create even more of a buzz with the Apple Watch unveiling. Although personally, I think that Tommy (aka “Scarf Guy”) stole the show:


Wearable devices are in the early stages. This means that, while companies are figuring out how a device will operate, properly laying out the user experience for wearable technology is also a work in progress.

As we are quickly approaching a time where we will regularly be designing for watches, glasses, and other accessory-style devices, I have complied a few points from my own design knowledge, along with some research, that I believe will lead fellow designers in the right direction. AH, THE FUTURE IS NOW!

Who’s going to be wearing these devices?

Understanding your typical user and what they are already familiar with will make for a smoother design process. More than likely, the typical device wearer will be young and used to adapting, making them familiar with the already typical UI of ‘smart’ devices.


Is designing a user experience with a first generation product realistic?

Sure, but the design is going to have it’s limits. UI and UX are going to work together more closely than ever thanks to devices becoming so small and unique. Wearables will focus heavily on the habits of those using them, and complex gestures and designs are not going to be possible on such small screens. To that end, interface simplicity will be key, and design will be forced to adapt to the wearables primary use. For example: If you’re running while using your smart watch, you’ll be unable to look at multiple lines of text. Therefore, the experience and overall visual design will need to be clean and to the point for the device to be successful.


How will designs across other devices work seamlessly into wearables?

Since wearables are currently considered ‘first generation’, we probably won’t see much integration through other smart devices yet. Eventually, we will reach a point at which, while one is designing an app for mobile, smart watches and glasses will be a secondary input. Certain core app features will be free to flow over to your wearable device – perhaps not an entire app, but specific aspects that could enhance the user experience as devices are switched.

In conclusion:

Creating simple, to the point user experiences for wearable devices will force designers to think even more critically about visuals and architecture than they already do. I’m calling it now: Horizontal navigation will most likely be our best friend. The key will be thinking bigger about where and when users will be experiencing an app, while designing the most simplistic approach to ensure a useful experience. Focusing on the right elements will be what ensures that these wearable devices serve a purpose in our ever digitally connected world.


Maggie Donovan

Maggie Donovan

Born and raised in the Midwest, I made the road trip down South with my cat/dog duo to join the Vert team as the Digital Creative Designer. When I’m not working with pixels, I’m usually hangin’ with my pup at the park, kicking it with friends, coming in first place in Mario Kart, or eating grilled cheese.