The Internet of things


Zuli was an early stage startup in San Francisco. Their focus was to create a mobile solution to home automation, by making it accessible to any smartphone user. Zuli was one of three winners of the Plug & Play EXPO in Fall 2012. We initially mentored Zuli at our EchoUser bootcamp program. We later were commissioned full-time to:

  1. research their target users; and
  2. create a unique experience with the iOS app.



Information architecture
Interaction design


Mar. 2013 – May 2013 (3 months)

Due to NDA, I am unable to show process diagrams of the work that I did. The screenshots below are the final screens that were created, designed by the talented Tom Gurka.


We identified the use cases that customers were looking for through in-home and phone interviews. Although attitudes and motivations on energy conservation had a wide spectrum, we found that most people were interested in monitoring their energy usage. The potential for automation and to remotely control devices had resonated with many of the users. Another major finding was the consistent behavior patterns associated with the time of the day. The research findings identified the key behaviors and characteristics about the target user that drove our basic design philosophy.

We then spoke with the Zuli engineers, and worked to match the technological capabilities with the needs of the customers. In this unique case, the hardware informed some of the unique features, such as dimming and proximity (the ability for your lights to turn on or off when your phone is nearby).

Information Architecture

Using the results of the research phase, we devised an information architecture that mapped the application to a user’s understanding of the system.

Sections included Setup, Energy Usage Tracking, Profiles, Home Screen, Device Settings, and Space Settings.

Interaction Design

We created low-fidelity wireframes and prototypes for Zuli’s iOS app. We wanted to make it both simple for the most basic user, but with the ability to network several smartplugs for the ‘power-user’. After several iterations, we designed an app that would control the smartplugs, monitor energy, and allow a user to ‘set-it-and-forget-it.’

One way that we provided Zuli with a different and fun user experience was by providing unique gestures.

Zuli successfully raised $175,342 USD with 925 backers on January 4, 2014.