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December 19, 2017

A new look for the Tile app

We’ve recently updated our app to make finding your things easier and faster than ever. Below you’ll find some of highlights and a little explanation about what inspired us to make these changes.


You can now ring your things faster!

Now if your Tile is in range you will be able to ring it from the homescreen on the app. You can do this by tapping the green “Find” button on your Tile’s card. This means you can now ring your things in one tap!


Check your Tile’s last known location faster.  

When your Tile is out of range you will see their last known location on the home screen, without having to tap to the detail screen. This way you can easily see where all of your things are the instant you open the app.


The information you want is now easier to find.

When you mark something as lost, the card expands and gets elevated to the top of your homescreen in the app. This allows you to easily see when the location of your lost item has been updated. We know that these items are important to you, and we want to make it as easy as possible to update you on their location.

An interview with Tile’s product design team.

Every change we make to your Tile experience undergoes months of scrutiny and testing. We wanted to share some of that process with you, here are some insights from Tile’s Senior Director of Design, Winnie Wong.

 

Q: What are the primary differences between the new design and the old design?

WW: We moved from a standard list view to a card view on the home screen. Most people don't have a giant list of Tiles, and their list view would look like a very lonely place. The tappable areas to choose which Tile to ring were at the top of the screen, furthest from the thumb. Switching to a card design uses that wasted space by giving people a larger place to tap to get details on their Tile. It also means that we had room to bring important functionality directly to the home screen, like the button to find your Tile.

While we were at it, it was a visual clean up too. We wanted to make room for features that we've got in store for everyone in the future — but that’s for a future blog post.

 

Q: What is the most important change that was made? Why is it important? When/how did you decide that this change needed to happen?

WW: I think adding the Find button to the home screen was the most significant change. I’m a strong believer that Design needs to be also be a catalyst for creative thinking throughout the company. When I first started at Tile, I wanted to learn about what other employees thought were problems and opportunities in the app. We ran a brainstorm with a bunch of people throughout the company and asked them what the liked and hated about the app. It was one of the engineers that said, "We're a finding app, why does it take so many taps to actually find something?"

There was a lot of truth in that statement for me —  It just felt like such simple truth, so we went for it.

Q: What kind of research was done (prototyping, etc) before this app was actually launched?

WW: We started with internal testing, and top-line feedback from Customer Care. Normally, I’d run a usability test as well, but to be honest, the whole project was green-lit so quickly that it kinda made our heads spin. So, uh, don’t follow that particular example. Instead, we tested internally a lot. From there it was a steady process of sharing designs, then prototypes, and internal builds and gathering feedback along the way.

Here are some of the things we did:

  1. We shared the in-progress designs internally for the entire company to provide feedback. It was up to the design team analyze the feedback, but we didn’t want anyone to not be able to tell us what they thought of the new design.

  2. We released a build with the new design internally and sent out a survey to ask everyone what they thought. We knew that Tile employees would not necessarily reflect what a typical user thinks is important, but it was at least a read on what people’s reaction might be.

  3. We then released the new design to our Beta test group to see what they thought, followed by the same survey. When we felt comfortable that the reception was positive, we cleared it for broad release.

It’s a process that involves a lot of points of feedback, finding the patterns and meaning in the feedback and reworking the design. It’s not like the movies where you wake up in a sweat from some vivid dream with a design epiphany for your app. Except for the sweat part. There was definitely a lot of work put into it.

Q: What part of the updated design was the most challenging? Why?

WW: The hardest thing about any design is knowing that you're not going to make 100% of the people 100% happy. There was a small minority that preferred a list format for the home screen. Those are hard decisions to make. We debated it internally as to whether or not we could afford to support 2 versions of our home screen, and we had to move away from it. I hate letting people down, and I really appreciate the honest feedback. I still keep that feedback in the back of my mind for the right time to introduce a solution that will satisfy that group.

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