Better UX for Better OOBE

Published by Samantha Wheatley March 12, 2018

Remember the good old days when you could plug in a new product and it just worked? It was a simpler time - consumer electronics products didn’t have many features; there was no reason to connect it to Wi-Fi. Life was good.

Years have past, technology has made life easier in almost all respects except for one-- getting devices set up. Today, products are smart and they need to be connected to Wi-Fi. Many products are created to be interoperable with other products.

Parents used to stay up the night before Christmas frantically putting together a bike or dollhouse. Now moms and dads are spending Christmas Eve googling how to use the app to connect the Sphero Spiderman to Wi-Fi.

With connected products, the initial setup, the OOBE includes connecting the product to the customer’s private Wi-Fi network. And simple, quick setup leads to great product reviews -- setup and connectivity drive about 40% of the negative online reviews of connected products.

But as most of us have witnessed, getting connected products onboarded to Wi-Fi is not easy. Because most of these products do not have keyboards or screens, it is difficult for users to get their Wi-Fi network names and passwords into their products.

We’ve all experienced a negative out of box experience, but what does the best OOBE for Wi-Fi onboarding a product look like?

The process should be simple:

  1. Customer communicates intent to connect the product.
  2. Customer indicates that the product is ready to be connected.
  3. Customer indicates that the product can be connected to the private network.
  4. The app tells the customer that the process is finished.

This process (which is followed by ZipKey products) eliminates many of the complexities of the other processes.

For example,

  • No SSID or password-- Many users don’t even know what an SSID is, nor remember their Wi-Fi password (many people [the majority in the UK] never change the default WiFi password).
  • No confusing messages from the phone-- When confronted with modal dialog boxes asking for security permissions, many people just don’t know what to do. For ZipKey products, the process is clean and simple and controlled entirely by the app, with no operating-system messages.

Take a look at the ZipKey onboarding flow that we’ve developed:

ZipKey Onboarding Flow.png

Here are some important details to notice on these screens that you should consider replicating in your connected product app:

  • Operator branding. The ZipKey process highlights the name of the internet service provider in the Wi-Fi onboarding process, which helps users to feel more comfortable about security.  
  • Clear messaging.  Make sure to ask the question clearly: “Would you like to connect XXXX product to YYY network using XFINITY?”
  • Choose a different network.  Advanced users may want to connect the product to another network.  They might have a special network for smart home products, or maybe the 2.4G network instead of the 5G network the phone is on.  You can give the user this option without confusing mainstream users by putting the details on another screen.
  • Learn more about ZipKey. Some people may be wondering how the product company knows the network operator (in this case, XFINITY). Having a link to a page will help concerned users get more comfortable.
  • Success! They successfully did it! A congratulations is always nice.

The goal of UX design for connected products is to get the customer from point A to point B quickly and easily (all while looking great). Put in the time and focus on UX at the beginning and you’ll have customers (especially exhausted parents) thanking you and showing their appreciation in product reviews.

UX and OOBE are inextricably linked to the success of your connected product, so take our advice and implement our best practices-- Christmas is only 9 months away.

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