UX (and Human) Factors to Consider

When designing for wearables, there are several aspects to take into account in order to ensure an effective, well-considered, scalable user experience, both in terms of the product’s industrial design and the interface design. These factors involve the actor (the person wearing the device[]), its surroundings, the device itself, the context of use, feature sets, interaction models, and any relationships with other devices.

Table 4-1. UX factors and their corresponding design options


Design Options


  • ? Visible to others
  • ? Invisible


  • ? Tracker
  • ? Messenger
  • ? Facilitator
  • ? Enhancer

Display on-device

  • ? No display
  • ? Minimal output display (LED-based)
  • ? Full interactable display

Physical screen Projected display

Interaction model

? Multimodal interaction:

Visual: display Audio: voice and sound Tactile: touch and vibration Physical keys

? Multi-device interaction

Table 4-1 lists the main UX factors and their corresponding design options that you need to address when designing for wearables. As you look through them, keep in mind the following:

  • ? The different factors are intertwined and impact one another to different degrees. For example, wearable visibility is closely connected to design decisions about the display and interaction model: a wearable attached to a body part that is invisible to others (such as the ankle or back) and thus not immediately accessible to the wearer either, doesn’t need a dedicated display, and definitely not one with which the wearer has full interaction. In terms of the interaction model, tactile feedback is critical for the ongoing communication between the wearer and the device (more on that next).
  • ? A single wearable experience can integrate multiple design options associated with one factor. For example, a wearable device can incorporate both tracker and messenger roles, which enhance each other and/or address different contexts of use (more on that next).

Next, we will take a deep dive into these factors and discuss what each one means, the design options involved, and the affordances to consider. We accompany it all with product examples. Together, these factors provide you with a comprehensive UX framework when designing for wearables that accounts for all the core experience components.

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