It takes a village to build a new Nest.

Designing the new Nest learning thermostat app required ditching the old client/studio relationship.

When Nest approached us, we barely had time to blush – and that would be a trend that carried through the entire project. While our lips are sealed with a bulletproof NDA, their vision for the future is amazing – but that probably doesn’t surprise you if you’ve ever used one of their products.

“We’re not your client; we’re an extension of your team.”

It required a sponge-like brain to absorb the enormous amount of meticulous details their team intuitively knows. We often compared it to learning how to speak their language. It also required we move, work and talk like a team. Lastly, we needed some professional cardio. Our team of three needed to stay on pace with Nest’s team of 30, all of whom were up against incredible deadlines. In the end, we learned about the value of cross-country (and in person!) communication, thinking fast and all the work that goes into those beautiful products.

Lesson #1: Talk often.

Communication is key to every project, that goes without saying. But when you’re three time zones away and working to deliver work at the end of every week, it’s especially important.

In addition to daily project management check ins, we relied on Google Hangouts to show work, receive feedback and check each other’s pulse. The team at Nest leaned on us to learn quickly, design delightfully and accurately, then revise accordingly and deliver promptly. Design feedback from Nest was just as it was intended to be: direct, concise and comprehensive.

We came away with a real appreciation for truly great collaboration – and the wonders it can do for a project.

Lesson #2: Quantity AND quality.

Our design team balanced perfection and production.

With interactions to be prototyped and thousands of screens to be delivered, one inaccurate measurement could cascade into a world of revision pain. At the same time, there was a significant amount of math required to design for a number of screens, across a variety of devices. To be a success, our team had a move confidently, yet quickly, so we developed a consistent workflow with Nest that set weekly deadlines, team expectations and a general project pace.

June 17th, 2015.

“The redesigned Nest app 5.0 brings together all three Nest products, across multiple platforms, for the first time, making it easier to access and control Nest products.”

And like that, Nest pushed out the latest version of their app to devices around the world.

A few months later, Nest also released the third generation of their flagship thermostat. While the bulk of this project was focused on the app, we spent a few weeks creating meaningful, distance-relevant interactions for the embedded device, so it was great to see some of our designs fully realized.

Our work with Nest was an experience in thinking, communication and working as a very tight team–and that our success was largely in part to this dynamic. We can’t wait to get back in the trenches with them again.