Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things
June 23–25, 2015 • San Francisco, CA

Connecting home: Designing for the systems of the whole family

Anna Shaw (consultant), Murphy Freelen (Consultant)
2:55pm–3:35pm Thursday, 06/25/2015
Location: Herbst Pavilion
Average rating: ***..
(3.57, 7 ratings)

Prerequisite Knowledge

Appreciation for the business impact of design


We know that considering the needs of women for connected products makes business sense. She’s leading adoption across most major tech categories, she is economically powerful, and when it comes to home tech products, she’s both a purchaser and a strong influencer. We know we can’t ignore her.

Women also consider the needs of the whole household, and smart home product developers need to emulate her. Currently many products/services promote the vision of a singularly controlled environment by a master operator. But family living is a system of its own—with multiple schedules, interests, desires, and, occasionally, conflict. With the majority of U.S. households consisting of more than one person (~63% per the U.S. Census), products must take a more sophisticated approach. They must understand and design for the variety of ages and stages that make up a family—and the living dynamics among them.

We will share examples (three to four) of common smart home products that fail to consider the whole family, whether through singular user functions, false security, awkward management, or solving non-problems. In summary, we’ll share a set of principles that companies can follow to create a more integrated and universal experience for every member of the family.

When companies design for the whole family, they will not only better attract the powerful woman buyer and user, but they will delight her through ongoing use. Because the most important connections at home are with people.

Photo of Anna Shaw

Anna Shaw


Anna is passionate about making technology accessible for people—recently becoming an expert on how to design meaningful products that appeal to women. As a creative director, she works with clients to create visionary experiences that reinvent businesses, inform new categories, and create differentiation in competitive markets. She has spent more than 15 years developing and extending brands across myriad markets and touch-points including brand strategies, digital products, user experiences, and packaging.

Photo of Murphy Freelen

Murphy Freelen


An expert in guiding and growing creative services firms, Murphy provides strategic leadership for global clients by leveraging her deep understanding of clients’ desires and design’s capacity for generating business results. Most recently, at Smart Design, she elegantly and purposefully integrated digital, physical, and brand into compelling and unexpected experiences that elevate people’s daily use of technology. Prior to Smart, Murphy held a variety of roles at frog design, including general manager of frog’s San Francisco studio and director of operations/program management. In her wilder days, she worked at SPY magazine and MCA Records and ran a photo studio. Murphy earned her MBA at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and her BA from Stanford University.