iOS Information Architecture Exploration


I originally posted this in the Upcoming Visual Updates topic, but I don’t want to detract from the discussion there. I have also fleshed out my ideas a bit more and created a quick and dirty mockup (not taking into account branding, iconography, etc).

So without further ado, if I may be permitted to share some feedback after using the app daily over the last month.

  1. One of my struggles with the (iOS) app is the confusing organization of information. For example, why are my installed SmartApps housed in the “hamburger” menu in the top right. To me, it would make more sense to have installed SmartApps added as a new section in My Home.

  2. Since Marketplace consists of two sections, Things & SmartApps, and we already have two sections of the same name in My Home, why not place Marketplace breadcrumbs in each of those sections in My Home and do away with the dedicated section on the tabbar? Driving everything through My Home will create less confusion as to where to find things.

  3. The “hamburger” menu position in the top right is non-standard (granted more reachable than the top left which is the usual location). I originally recommended this action be moved to the tabbar (as the iOS tabbar supports up to 5 items), however I really think the contents could be disseminated into the rest of the application in more logical locations. Notifications and My Account could be made more accessible, and Mode and Hub status could be moved to Dashboard.

  4. It’s great that routines can be made available in the today/notification panel. It would also be great to see what the current status of your system is (armed away, stay, or disarmed).

Hopefully you find this feedback useful, feel free to use all or none of my ideas. There may be features or nuances I am unaware of, which dictate the organization structure of the current application… I can appreciate that.

iOS 2.1.2 - Release Notes - 5/2/2016
Mobile App Confusing

Nice work.

(Jimmy) #3

I do like having the mode and hub status on the Dashboard. I also like the Marketplace and Add thing option in the Things list, but might prefer it at the bottom.

Where to put SmartApps, i’m kind of torn. In theory you shouldn’t have to mess with them much once they are setup, so tucking them away somewhere keeps it clean. Wherever the list of SmartApps lives, i do like having the Marketplace for them there, but once again maybe at the bottom of the list,

Very cool mock-up though!

(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #4

so the way it was prior to 2.1?


My biggest issue is that the iOS SmartThings update in March 2016 broke voiceover navigation, so I can no longer use the app at all. I have to pay someone else to use it.

I have previously sent suggestions of various resources to the ST UI team, including national Federation of the blind, Tecla, Applevis, etc.

ST staff agreed that there was an issue, and said that they would make fixing it a high priority, so we’ll see what happens.

( co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #6

A big part of the challenge is reconciling iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile versions of the App.

I’m sure every cross-platform App faces the same design challenge…

i.e., How do you make the App conform to the distinct design guidelines of each OS (Material Design, etc.) while also maintaining a consistent look-and-feel across all OS’s?

On top of that, add the desire each vendor has to be stand out from other vendors; in other words, purposefully violating design standards in order to establish brand identity, differentiation, and, hopefully, innovative User Experience?


Sorry, I have only been a SmartThings user for a little over a month, so I don’t know what the previous version looked like. Maybe there are reasons the old design iterated to what we have today, which I am unaware of.


Sorry to hear that. From what I have read, Apple too has slipped when it comes to accessibility, something they have notoriously been a champion of. Hopefully things get resolved for you!


I design mobile software for a living, so I definitely understand this struggle. On one hand, you want your application to feel as though it “belongs” in the environment in which it is being used, but you also want to ensure your brand is coming through as well. And how far do you take your brand? Do you go so far to implement unconventional UIs in their respective platforms in order to create a unified experience across all platforms? Unconventional UIs means custom work, means time spent on something other than functionality. It’s a constant balancing act, that not many pull off well.

All that being said, my concept was not to suggest SmartThings go completely native, it was only an exercise in information organization. It was easier for me to drag and drop native elements to construct the UI, than it would have been to open up screenshots and slice and dice in Photoshop. I don’t find the look of the app offensive at all, I just struggle with it’s organization, or lack of.


I am messing with my installed SmartApps quite a bit, as I am still setting up my smarthome components. I can see your point that once I am out of this phase, I might not need to access them nearly as often.

(Dale C) #11

I mess with them all the time. I like your way better than the hamburger menu.