Design Critique

Hey guys, before I post this project up on my Behance and portfolio site, I wanted to know of any comments or critiques on this.
I’m open to any feedback or suggestion, this is a personal concept project (in which I have total reign over!)

Stream of consciousness:

  • What I’m missing is a reason for this thing to exist. A problem or opportunity you identified. In terms of functionality, it’s more than a Fitbit, but less than an Apple Watch? Was that your target?
  • Aesthetically, very nice. Good presentation and renderings.
  • On your sketch page I’d recommend adding a pop of color behind the direction(s) you moved forward with. Right now I get lost in the sea of sketches.
  • I see that there are 12 lines in that circular pattern on the face. If I double-tap the button, can it tell time with LEDs? That’s not a critique really, just a question. Maybe not a desirable feature.
  • I’d like to know more about “voice interaction / GPS / accelerometer.” What does that enable me to do? I’m assuming it connects to my phone, and then there’s an app or something? Maybe add a slide for each, similar to your “fitness tracker” image, showing the potential interactions. You say it’s a way to “connect with your local surroundings,” but you don’t show what those connections actually are.
  • Crop the images in your inspiration page so that they align nicely.

super hard to give feedback in this format. Can you post separate images?

Thanks for your feedback Brian, will definitely take a second look.
As for the reason for this project to exist, I saw great portfolio pieces on Behance, personal sites, etc., that weren’t innovative just new branding or styling exercise on existing product markets. They seemed to have success as portfolio pieces and looked super fun! If you need examples, I can post links. So I wanted try that myself, here reimagining what a minimal smartwatch could be to showcase my updated skillset. I do feel my GPS guide feature is interesting enough to warrant this concept. However if these reasons are not enough please let me know!

Sure, hopefully this is better. Let me know if I am still posting these wrong.

OK for some reason it made me post 3 images at a time, hopefully you can follow it ok!

Much better.

It is a nice project, I’m a little unclear as to what it actually does. One pet peeve, I don’t like when people use the made up word minimalistic… it is just minimalist. It doesn’t have a screen, but why? For power? For experience? Is that really a btter experience? How are the patterns made or is that just an exploration for mic patterns?

I’d say you are 95% there, but it feels a bit fluffy right now. Try not to use any buzz words and try to communicate more meaning through the images. For example, there is an image that says activity tracker. How am I getting data or understanding my fitness dashboard? Is it all audible? Than I’d put a speech bubble coming from the watch showing what it says. If speech is such a big part of the project than it has to be reflected in the images both by the user and the device.

Tommy, I agree with some of the points previously mentioned. My initial reaction was “what is it and how does it work”? Then It feels you fell in love with your renderings without giving much thought as to the actual product benefits and solutions. I personally would add an investigative section as to why this particular idea.

That doesn’t make your solution compelling though. Forget about the conceptual portfolio projects people are doing. What problem or opportunity in the real world are you trying to solve? I do believe you’ve created something interesting here, but you haven’t made it clear in your presentation. I agree that the GPS feature is interesting, but so what? Show me how it pairs with an app on my phone and indicates “turn left” at the right time.

from a visual standpoint i think your sketch style is nice, clean and simple. Which translates into what your design is also trying to communicate. Many designers forget that the style of the sketch plays a big role. i.e going for sophisticated but yet the sketch is more suited for toy development.
I do believe that a sketch should speak for its self, but at the core it is an inanimate object that needs you to provide the voice and thus when you are not present the sketch should clearly communicate the what, why and how. As well as communicate Why this is better then what exists already for the user. If it is purely a styling and sketching exercise then i think you nailed it. if it is meant to be a designed product then you need to show more of the why behind your design.

Great point, Chevis.

To build on that, I think all of your executional quality is at a nice level. The sketching is clean, the renders look good, the form work is cohesive… it is because all of these elements are strong that all of us can actually focus the feedback on the core idea. That is huge (HUGE). If it wasn’t we would be spending lal of our time talking about layouts, or sketches, and not even getting to the core concept.

All great points, thanks so much! Here are 2 updated slides and 1 new slide based on your feedback, focusing on how it works (the voice interaction, the GPS guide) and the benefits… If these look good, next I will show an app for the fitness dashboard (I’m not truly an IxD guy but I want to broaden my T shaped skill set)


The reason there’s no touch screen is because I think touch screens and the info on them need to be a decent size for someone to see/use it efficiently. That’s why a lot of people don’t see a need to buy a smartwatch right? (aka just a secondary screen) Therefore, in the project description I mention leaving the touch screens to larger devices. This way the mobile nature of a wearable is the “hero” of the show. Maybe I need to emphasize this more?

You need to show how people interact with it then think. I understand how a wearable is worn, show me how I use it.

Yo, besides speaking to it for commands or questions (which I think I’ve shown effectively right?), are you referring to interacting with it for other things like turning it on/off, changing volume? (In which I think I’d feature a touch capacitive surface)

Sorry, I totally missed that update to those images! That helps. It is pretty easy to miss those call outs though. I’d probably make it a notch more obvious… without making them look like comic book bubbles. What you did really helps though.

Hi Tommy,
I like the project and I think there is a great need to explore what a smartwatch can be!

You have some good ideas and made good steps towards an implementable design. Your renders are decent and the sketches are clear.
Work more with textures and get the sharpness right to get a realistic look. See if you can add more character to the visualizations.

A few initial remarks are the scatter texture - this happened to my Samsung Gear too after I forgot to remove it in the spray painting area and was working with chrome. It doesn’t really add interest to this product in my view. I like that you chose a round design, this is this thing I have with watches needing to be round, it’s just the only shape that works.

For a project of this scope you can go much further into conceptualizing what the smartwatch can be. You need to map out all use cases and explore possible interactions to come up with a scenario that works. Removing a touchscreen is a bold idea but what you are really talking about is removing screen-based interaction. You can still use the screen or use touch interaction. I prefer mechanical touch input like wheels and knobs, and can see the value of voice feedback. I see a watch display mostly fit to give one type of information at a quick glance, it is a peripheral device to me.
I agree a touchscreen input is not optimal - you get fingerprints and no haptic feedback, you have to carefully look where you are pressing. So a simple button in the center makes sense. You can think about navigation styles with simple mechanical feedback or beep-like sounds with different frequencies giving feedback of where you are in the navigational structure, then you can lay your finger on top of the button (hovering is also possible with capsens) and get voice-feedback, then pressing will get you further into the menus. If you keep a simple interaction style and reflect it in the product design like you are doing, you can create a very successful concept. Keep exploring and integrating different ideas while keeping a clear view of where you want the design to go.

Also don’t underestimate annular snap fit systems - you need to show some calculations before you can prove it is a workable and durable solution.
CNCed aluminum is probably a good idea for this + with an anodized finish it will look great.

Really in depth and high level feedback, thank you! I’ll explore more types of interactions like you said. But not sure why you’d need physical interactions beyond the basics…? volume, on/off, home, sync Bluetooth, shuffling music. Other than that everything could be voice right?

For use cases I’m specifically targeting features for on-the-go scenarios: activity tracking, GPS, ID card, NFC payment, RFID tag, keyless security, and connecting to bluetooth earbuds… what about calls/messaging, should that be left to your phone?