I am most familiar with user centered design processes that focus on the UX between the user and a device. However, sometimes it needs to go beyond just between the pair of human/device, but view things in a larger context of usage with other devices and in the user's environment.

Is there a design framework/methodology for designing a device that considers other devices that will potentially be used together? For example, in the Internet of things environment or wearable technologies, the design choices of your device may limit the usability of another device and vice-versa. Ecological Interface Design's name sounds right for the scenario, but it's mostly focused on large complex sociotechnical systems, and I am not sure if that's the right one.

Assuming that the capabilities and constraints of the devices can be encoded in a common language and available to the device designers, what methodology (or a mix of methodologies) exists to help you design devices under this context?

2 Answers 2


I don't think such a methodology exists because of the following reason.

Each device has its own set of restrictions in terms of size, accessibility, interaction etc. Every technology behemoth advices us to create a separate native app for that particular platform. As an example you could see any native Google app (like gmail) running differently on desktop, mobile, tablet, watch, Google glass. Heck theyre even different between android an iOS!

This is because all HUGs (Human Interface Guidelines) are individually written based on research off of each device and its use cases. Most of the times even their teams are different and in many cases even SDKs are diff.

It would be extremely difficult therefore to give a general purpose ecosystem wide guidelines without knowing the nature of your app.

Having said that If at all such guidelines are going to come up they can come from Microsoft with the message of Win10 being one OS many devices. Material UI also shows promise and the next iterations may have that.

Till then I would advice you to read iOS Windows guidelines and Material UI guidelines (which come the closest) for each type of device and justhave ddocumentation on how your app will *change * to suit each device.


I don't think there is a specific framework for dealing with that. It's difficult enough to do it for one system, over which you have control.

However, a normal full design process (it may be skipped in some kinds of agile) will have you define the scope, context and interface of your own system very early, before you start with tasks and scenarios. This means that, for a successful design, you have to include this information in the specification. What is your system going to do and what is it not going to do? Where does it get its information from, and what other systems consume its information? This is very general, of course. For something like a wearable device, you'll have to consider common constraints at this stage, such as "my GPS can't use all the energy from the solar panel mounted on the backpack, because the user is likely to be wearing a pulsemeter and an mp3 player using that power".

This stage of the process is rather short for traditional professional information systems (business, health and so on) but nobody stops you from making it as elaborate as you need it for your specific device.

  • A bit subjective but i am also on the side of this answer :)
    – Abektes
    Jan 28, 2015 at 11:22

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