Hello!Hammad KhanFounder & Principal UX Consultanthammad@zabisco.com0203 1511 330
ArchitectUser Experience Design – what can we learn from Formula 1
• Understanding Users - the key to engineering a great experience • It sounds obvious right? But 8 out of 10 times, we design the the solution first and then try to get users to relate to it – aka Solutioneering • Britain is a nation of great engineering pedigree and success (see other great British engineering success stories - Dyson and Rolls Royce) • We must build on this strength in digital projects too..Meet McLarens ‘users’ – two F1 world champions in Jenson & Lewis, plus twodedicated test and development drivers
• Knowing who your users are is only the FIRST step. We need to know all about them and how we can use that to design a better fit. • All the ologies come into play: - Sociology - Physiology - Psychology • We can use the traits of our users to identify how to get the most from them in a way that suits them.They drive the McLaren MP4-27 - designed to fit Jenson & Lewis perfectly.Everything from their seat, steering wheel and set-up – personalised.
• In the digital world, we’re restricted by a plethora of factors, including: - Browsers & Devices - Bandwidth - Firewalls, SSL - W3C - Privacy Laws & Guidance - Accessibility Laws & Guidance - Search Optimisation • Yet despite this, the best designers and engineers find ways to innovate, break the mould and get users engaged. Google, Facebook, Amazon – all face the same restrictions we do.F1 cars have to meet strict criteria from the FIA governing body(Scrutineering) – ensuring a level playing field, safety for drivers andspectators and avoiding deception.
• If your users know what to expect on their journey, they can use their instincts to feel their way around subconsciously – just like a race driver who doesn’t think through the corners – they hit the apex in milliseconds because it’s intuitive to them. • Make the journey fun, exciting and with things to keep them interested. But remember what their goal is – to win the race and so don’t detract them from that in the process. Give them momentum, not distraction.A perfect journey for Jenson and Lewis to take in the MP4-27– The Spa-Francochamps race track in Belgium.Pretty much the best bit of asphalt in the world.
• Nothing can beat getting in front of your users and watching them use your product and take your journey – just like the McLaren pit wall, when you see if from your own eyes, up close, you can see how to improve things. • Effective user testing typically includes recording what’s happening so you can play it back or show it to others. • Having a two-way dialogue is important too – let the users tell you what is happening in real- time and in their own words (we call this ‘think aloud’)Everybody from the team principal, Martin Witmarsh, to the drivers raceengineers monitor what’s happening
• Just like at the MTC, we need to make full use of the Analytics we have available to us – make sure they are in line with the user journeys! • Bridging the gap between data and design is a growing trend in User Experience Design and can be the USP between brands in understanding what is working and what isn’t. • Think of your analysts as your Mission Control and your front of house sales/marketing as your pit crew.Mission Control at the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC) in Woking, Surrey– analysing car and track data and helping the pit crew make key descisions
• Things can and do go wrong, so rather than waiting for users to hit the wall – plan for it and/or soften the blow. • In F1, they can change Tyres, Noses and adjust the Wing during the race – so they have spares ready. They can’t change the engine on the fly or add more fuel due to the rules – so they don’t waste resources. • What can go wrong on your User journeys? Errors, Low stock, Timeouts – having a fix ready is easy if you map out the likely scenarios.When tweaks to the car are needed, or if anything goes wrong, the McLarenpit crew are on standby to sort it out pronto and get Jenson & Lewis back ontheir way, without delay.
• F1 is a team sport and the best teams work well together in all departments to make sure the team succeeds. • An individual win is great for personal glory and PR, but it’s the constructors championship where the money is – McLaren need to top this table to get the best return on their investment and to do that, their users need to have every chance to succeed as individuals. It’s a symbiotic relationship; just like in your business!Jenson and Lewis are no strangers to the podium – regularly winning racesthanks to a well designed race experience from start-to-finish. Good times
• Expect to see more kinetic energy power systems in road cars in the future – thanks to the development of KERS in F1. • When something is not a good use of technology, it will get relegated to history (Frames, Pop-ups, etc)Winning innovations in F1 eventually trickle down to road cars
• In NASCAR, the drivers go round in circles – so there isn’t much for them to do other than crash into each other and get into trouble. It’s fun to watch, but pretty monotonous too. • The cars are pretty much the same too – hence why they call it stock car racing. • The only thing spectators are interested in is seeing a car crash. Great entertainment, but not a reflection of a good user- centric design and experience.Not all journeys are perfected like in F1 – not even in motor racing.Even the famous Daytona track is basically just an oval!
• If you’ve ever sat in on a User testing session, you’ve probably wanted to shout instructions at your Users, but you can’t and if you did, they’d still go wrong – because if it doesn’t make sense to them, it won’t come naturally. • It’s easy to go off course in Rally too, because the tracks are designed to challenge and deter you, not help you get to the end in one piece. A rally track is the equivalent to fighting your way through pop-up windows, banner ads and other media that is just getting in your way.In a Rally car, you have a navigator by your side to shout instructions at you inreal-time – LEFT LEFT LEFT. We can’t do this to our website or app users ofcourse and they probably wouldn’t appreciate it if we could!
• A race track has no physical entry or exit – it’s a perpetual cycle until the winning goal is reached. • Our journeys are usually from A-B, sometimes via C and D and avoiding E. It’s complicated and changes depending on 100’s of influencing factors. • A road network is built and evolved over time and adapts to the demands of the public. It can’t be rebuilt from scratch to suit current needs or demands – we have to work with what we have - Motorways, A- roads, residential streets, car parks etc.This is probably closer to the journeys we are used to – and it’s a lot like thejourneys our users are facing online too. Traffic, delays, frustration…
• Just because we spend lots of money on a project, develop some cool technology or bring in the masses through marketing – doesn’t mean the User journey is any good. • Sometimes it’s hard to change direction when so much is committed already – Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA keep going back to Herman Tilke to design tracks, even though drivers and spectators don’t like them. It’s no surprise these tracks are not doing so great (Korea, Valencia etc – all being dropped despite being new!)Many modern F1 tracks designed by Herman Tilke look fantastic and have thelatest tech and comfort - but are renowned to be terrible for the actual users –Drivers!
• Just like a good race track, we can design the journey to suit our needs and the needs of our users. • It’s a lot easier to sketch out the ideal user journey and tweak it to perfection than to build the road/track and change it later. • We can ask for input from users, engineers and even the people funding the development – getting to a workable compromise for all before committing too much or to late.Spa-Francochamps isn’t a natural phenomenon – it was designed – by peoplewho understood what the drivers would be engaged by
• Putting a signpost in front of the user isn’t the answer to every problem on the journey – the more time we are having to interpret navigation or figure out what to do, the more likely we are to get frustrated or give up. • A poorly planned journey has a dramatic, negative effect on our experience – so even if we reach our goal, we make take a different route next time – and that may mean avoiding your journey!Our journey should be intuitive, but giving users some help and signposts is agood idea – but they need to be effective; unlike the one above!
• Motorways – The quickest route from A to B • A-Roads – intuitive signposts to help you navigate a route for yourself • B-roads – slower routes, with more to explore and safer to stop and change direction. • Most countries have a similar highway code system and iconography, so its easy to adapt your design tookit to use the visual language to suit the people on your project – the stakeholders, engineers, designer s and users.The symbology of the highway code – a great visual language for describingboth the journey AND the experience together. We’ve used and refined thismethodology in UXD over the last 10 years and it works VERY well indeed.
• Ideally, you can get input from real users to help you guide this planning. When that isn’t possible (for whatever reason, but usually time, money and logistics in organising it), gain insight from people in your team who are close to the users – sales teams, service desks, etc.Cognitive thinking – map out the steps and thoughts of your users and stitchthem together using the highway code toolkit.
• An easy way to start is to have all your Motorway journeys at the top, running left—to-right. Then your A-roads, then your B-roads. This helps you to understand priorities as well as look vertically through the linear journeys to identify lateral movement – join your journeys together at these points as this is an early insight into actual user- behaviour!Merge all your journeys together and find any cross-overs; streamline it andyou have your sitemap, information architecture or blueprint ready forengineering – a natural conclusion of the steps before, rather than contrived!
• Make sure you know what parts of your interface are serving which parts of your journey – are they in-sync with your priorities and your users traits? • When you track the usage of your product/system, you can keep an eye out for how effective your motorways are – are people getting lost on the B-Roads? Or perhaps the motorways are so effective, users are missing out on good content/experiences in the B-Roads, so use A-Roads to help them find it – IF they don’t mind a detour of course!Even in the design/engineering stages, you can continue to use this visuallanguage to ensure the user experiences you want are not lost.
Thank YouYou can contact me about all thingsUX, Formula 1 or Zabiscohammad@zabisco.com07966 029298
Digital User Experience TeamLondon & Nottingham Tom – Head of Design Shean – UX Architect Mariza – UX Architect Hammad – The Boss Natalie - Planner Naseem – Tech Lead Wallis – UX Designer Jon – IX Designer Duncan – Studio ManagerMarcus – Creative Services Director
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