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Dashboard UX Design - Whitepaper for Volkswagen AG



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Dashboard UX Design - Whitepaper for Volkswagen AG

  1. 1. 1 Dashboard User Experience
  2. 2. 3 WHITE PAPER Dashboard User Experience: Leveraging dashboard userexperiencetomakecarsacompletemasterpiece of the modern times. VOLKSWAGEN GROUP
  3. 3. 5 What is User Experience ? The contemporary definition of user experience relates to computer or computing devices as the context and is described as what a person feels emotionally, consciously and sub-consciously while interacting with a computing device. It encompasses the feelings and perceptions a user develops while interacting with the object. To illustrate, some emotions[2] are surprise, joy, irritation, confusion, addiction, gloom and many more that could result as the person interacts with the object. The contemporary definition draws its context from the advancements of mobile, ubiquitous, social, and tangible computing technologies and pushes the underlying discipline of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) to the forefront. Due to the ubiquitous use of technologies in our day-to-day lives, significant research in the field of HCI has lead to a better realization of how people affect and are affected by the increasingly pervasice technology around us. John J. McCarthy and Peter Right (quoted in left) define the term ‘human computer interaction’ and carefully illustrate the association of the field of human computer interaction[8] and user experience. Human computer interaction roots from the understanding of user experience, however has a pin point focus on the interactions between a technology and a person. Delving into such niche depths reveals several aspects of human behavior which demand to be addressed while designing technology products. User experience is pioneered by Nielsen Norman Group, a team of three stalwarts of the field, namely Jakob Nielsen, Don Norman and Bruce Tognazzini, provide best in class consulting, research and training. Their definition of user experience bears a more real world syntax and can be analogized to modern day technology products. In their words, “ user experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.“ Jakob Nielsen and Don Norman emphasize on the important of distinguishing components of user experience such as usability, a quality attribute of user interface, and how they fit into the broader concept of user experience. In their argument of a consistently important factor is the need to understanding the user, so much so that they go on to express that true user experience not only delivers what the user wants but go above and beyond to observe, understand and model their real needs which lie tucked away and can be tacitly observed in their behaviour towards the product. They also call for seamless merging of the services of across disciplines such as engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, psychology, cognitive science and interface design. “ HCI is concerned with the influence technology has on how people think, value, feel, and related and using this understanding to inform technology design. Ontologically, HCI is now concerned with the experience, felt life, emotion, desire, fulfillment as well as the more familiar ontology of activities, practices and tasks.” - Wright, P. and McCarthy, J. Empathy and Experience in HCI. In Proc. CHI 2008, ACM Press (2008), 637-646[7]
  4. 4. 7 Why User Experience needs to be designed ? Every product that is ever made is ultimately a result of a set of decisions, by a group of people. The product is designed and engineered for a purpose. Now, when a user of the respective device uses it, the device would impart its physical nature, it would have a flow[10] to the way it would work and it would also have a quality of achieving the desired goal for the very reason it was made. In simple terms, there is an experiencewhentheproductisusedorinteractedwith.Today’sworldistechnologically flat, as technology has advanced so far ahead it has become irrelevant to gauge the effectiveness of a product based on its technology. For example, computer processing power has become so fast, in technical terms of gigahertz, that further advancements in it hardly bears any meaning to the common person. But there has been interesting turn of events due to this evolution and that is, people have begun caring about how it feels to use that product or how easily then can get their job done with it. Deriving from the same above example, now the judgement of a computer depends more on how fast the user “percieves” the computer is and not how fast it technically is. This compels us to consider ‘experience’ and ‘perception’ to be vital to any product. The question ‘How is the customer’s experience with our product ?’ has redefined the question ‘How good is our product ?’ John Dewey, famous philosopher whose work Art as Experience[3] (1934) is regarded by many as one of the most important contribution to the field of psychology of art and experience in the twentieth century. Dewey[3] explains how there are various types of experiences. The first one is a simple ‘experience,’ it is what we feel and perceive when we do some routine work, say laundry. The second and one of the most prominent one is ‘an experience[1] ,’ which is the experience we have when we are witnessing something extremely delightful. This experience stands out from others, it has a very distinct beginning and an end. And the experience reverberates in our minds long after the experience has ended. He talks how such an experience begins and ends and have many individual parts in them which flow into each other like a river stream flows, but, they don’t loose their individual identity rather they contribute to the whole homogenous experience. Without taking care of the resultant experience that a product would deliver, it is basically left up to chance, for the customer to like it or not. A product delivering good experience or an experience would make the product be percieved as very useful and would be happily reflected upon as a tool doing its intended job. However, a bad experience would render the product not useful and would be disliked by its intended customers[12] . Leaving this judgement up to chance doesn’t make any logical sense, especially when millions of dollars are spent making it to do a certain task. “ Because of continuous merging, there are no holes, mechanical junctions, and dead centers when we have an experience. There are pauses, places of rest, but they punctuate and define the quality of movment.” - Dewey, J. Having an Experience. Art as Experience 1934. 1-18 [3]
  5. 5. 9 User experience has been leveraged by many great companies since a long time, even making products that get their customers, to an extent, addicted to it. To quote Dieter Rams[14] , the famous product designer behind Braun products, “Users react very positively when things are clear and understandable…”. An example of such a company which is also agreed by legends in the field such as Dieter Rams is Apple. It reflects clearly in their products, a company driven by design who take meticulous care in finding out how each aspect of their product will be perceived by the customers, even the subtle ones that are hidden away from the surface. An example of such ludicrous attention to detail can be seen in their 1982 design guide document for their Apple IIe computer as illustrated below. Even back in 1982, when there were no significant advancement in the means and modes of interface of computers with users Apple stresses in the document how building a smooth interaction is important, study the user profiles and design to accomodate all the user profiles. It also speaks at great length about how important it is for the code to be readable by the next developer or user tinkering into the system. “ ...Users react very positively when things are clear and understandable... Good Design should be Innovative. Good Design should make a product useful. Good Design is aesthetic design. Good Design will make a product undestandable. Good Design is honest. Good Design is unobtrusive. Good Design is long-lived. Good Design is consistent in every detail. Good Design is environmentally friendly. Last but not least, good design is as little design as possible. - Dieter Rams in Objectified. Gary Hustwit. 2009 [15] Apple has one of the highest customer satisfaction rates in the industry and the customers even have a devotional fan-following for the product and the culture of the company. Designing a product well is powerful. Designing an experience is extremely powerful. Designing the user experience of your digital products is almost predicting how the customers would perceive it and how they feel. Hence user experience needs to be designed.
  6. 6. 11 Dashboards “ To satisfy the goals of your customers your design must be useful. In other words,itmustperformthetaskitwasdesignedfor.Itmustalsobeusable,or easy to understand and interact with in a predictable and reliable manner. Usabilityhasbecomeabasicbusinessrequirementaswellasauserexpectation. Finally, in order to attract users, your design must also be desirable.” - Gorp, T. Van and Adams, E. Design for Emotion. Elsevier 2012. 1-18 [2] In the 90’s, cars had fairly simple dashboard[15] with gauges and buttons to interact and operate the various systems of the car. Back then, one could swap out the factory music system for something better. Car enthusiasts primarily did this so they could include better amplifiers and even more speakers—usually to make it loud and full of bass. This would result in the ability to impress friends, annoy parents, and disturb those around you in traffic. An aftermarket replacement like the Alpine 7903 relied on hard buttons and 7-segments for its UI. The interface on these systems was relatively simple. They would then have an entirely different area of the console that used another set of switches, buttons, and sliders to deal with things like climate control.
  7. 7. 13 This dashboard to the left is from 1995 Nissan Pathfinder with an aftermarket stereo and its separate controls for climate control. Now lets see a relatively modern dashboard in one of the luxury cars namely Porsche 918 Spyder. Nowadays these systems no longer just deal with the controls on your stereo—they deal with everything. It is common for the interface in today’s consoles to include inputs for complex stereos, multi-zone climate control systems, navigation, vehicle information centers, phones, contact lists, and a host of other things. The number of operations has risen from a couple of dozen to a few hundred. For example, the Porsche 918 Spyder’s center console controls more than 800 functions. The current dashboard interfaces simply aren’t efficiently dealing with the number of requirements they have. But this is just part of the problem. Beyond the vast number of functions these systems are supporting, there are regulatory and testing requirements, which, definitely need involvement and approval from multiple groups, partners, and organizations that live outside the manufacturer. These factors add more constraints, roadblocks, and bureaucracy that need to be taken into account. These checks and balances add several time to the ‘design’ process. In other words, some of what was designed into your 2015 vehicle started back in 2013 or even earlier, it is the fact. Cost is another important factor. It is obviously expensive and time consuming to produce the new systems. We are incentivized to create things that can be adapted and adopted for use across a model range, or in some cases, across multiple brands. They want to keep those costs down and have speed to market. However some of what is being produced is inexcusable for any company, regardless of the constraints put in front of them. There is no excuse for a system to use text typography that is unreadable. There is no defense for an interface that uses icons that are too small to read or mean something else than what they should represent. “...the vision we have will always be as much a reflection of ourselves and our prejudices as it is a discovery of ‘how things really are.’ In other words, the very way we see things reveals secrets about us: what we see reveals what we are looking for, what we are interested in.” - Russon, J. The Forms of Human Exprience:Interpretation in Human Experience. Albany: State University of New York Press. 9-20 [4]
  8. 8. 15 We can’t rationalize a palette with poor contrast or bevelled buttons directly copied from old computer interfaces. Bad design is sometimes just bad design—and it’s unfortunately pervasive in automotive interfaces. The clarity, simplicity, and aesthetic of these systems should be more important to us[5] . We should see it as a major opportunity to bring moments of joy and delight to customers. These are systems that allow us to physically interact with their brand, that is a very powerful proposition. Dashboards should not be ugly exercises of frustration. They should express the brand with every interaction. When someone gets in a Porsche Cayenne and turns on the stereo, or adjust the climate control, it should feel like Porsche. It shouldn’t be the same experience I get when I turn on the stereo in my Chrysler Town & Country minivan. There are shocking examples of same interfaces between a luxury super car like Ferrari and a Chrysler Town & Country minivan. Can we imagine if those two cars shared another part, like the headlights or door panels? It would never happen. Then it brings up the all important question that if we are not comfortable having cars of different segment and quality share each other’s parts how can we be satisfied if they had the same dashboard interface. A driver interacts with the car from different points, no doubt it is reasonable to argue that interaction with the car happens primarily with the steering wheel and the gear handle or paddles. But increasingly cars are becoming more technologically advanced. A big part of the technological advancement is happening in the dashboard. Cars have implemented touch screens and innovative technology on to the dashboards since long. But often car companies have been stigmatized with bad design of these technologies on dashboard. The ground is level now, there is more than ever room for some car company to think innovatively and bring in a dashboard interface that their customers will delight from. All car companies make good cars but we at Volkswagen group make great cars that are pieces of art. Our customers already delight from various aspects of the car be it the ride quality, the smoothness of drive, the cabin comfort, the cabin luxury, the engine, the power the car delivers, etc. However there is one last piece missing in the puzzle that would render our cars as masterpieces and that is the dashboard. We at Volkswagen group make great cars that are pieces of art. Our customers alreaady delight from various aspects of the car be it the ride quality, the smoothness of drive, the cabin comfort, the cabin luxury, the engine, the power the car delivers, etc. However there is one last piece missing in the puzzle that would render our cars as masterpieces and that is the Dashboard.
  9. 9. 17 To achieve the last mile of perfection we need to bring some change to our strategy. It needs to be a little realigned so that we foster a higher quality of user experience in our cars and thinking from the user’s point of view. It would require us to bring about some small changes but result in significant improvement in the results of our car’s experience leading to greater customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. As Forlizzi [1] pragmatically mentioned understanding experience is difficult and understanding user experience is even more difficult as it requires multidisciplinary teams to work together it would help us to spread our strategy plan into different dimensions of a car production from inception to manufacturing. Some strategies would be undertaken by the people and for the people while some would be for the product implemented by the people. Strategy for Change PRODUCT 1. Introduce brand specific in-car dashboard experience A Volkswagen CC is different from a Porsche Panamera and so is a Lamborghini Aventador from Skoda Octavia. They all have unique bodily characteristics as well felt characteristics. One can easily distinguish whether they are driving a VW, Porsche or Seat. However while using the dashboard console/interface in any of these cars the experience is not distinct. The first and foremost change we would like to bring in would be to introduce brand specific experiences inside the car. People buy a Volkswagen for certain reason and Lamborghini for some other, they deserve to feel they are using a Volkswagen console if they are driving a Volkswagen.The dashboard user experience needs to be considered early on and should be included in the process of inception and proofing of a car’s concept. It would require Volkswagen group companies to hire senior and experienced user experience designers to lead a new division of dashboard and digital equipment experiences. The primary job of the division would be to take up the new car’s concept or idea and build a holistic in-car dashboard experience around it. They will also take care of any digital equipment that is added to the car, judge if the equipment has interaction with the car users and if yes then take it under their umbrella to design the respective experience that would result. It would need the involvement of the company’s board throughout just like they are involved in the clay modeling process of the car’s concept. When a new car is taking shape around the clay modeling stage, the car also shapes a concept, a goal that the car wants to deliver; introducing the digital experience and shaping it along with the clay model would maintain the cohesively in the car’s driving and felt experience.
  10. 10. 19 2. Rethink fundamentals in placing of features on a dashboard Earlier during the pre-touchscreen era the dashboard mainly consisted of buttons and manual gauges to adjust settings of temperature and music system. There were buttons for doing specific tasks. However now some new technologies are introduced because it can be done and not because it is needed. Also only building on conventional technologies ned be rooted out. Room for innovation has to be created and out of the box thinking should be brought in as a norm. This would also align with the previous strategy of making brand specific in-car experiences. For example, Porsche or Lamborghini since they are pioneer sports car and super car makers the cars are often driven fast, there is an even more need to keep the driver’s eyes on the road, in this situation a lot of the crucial dashboard displays need to be moved away from the console which is below the driver’s line of sight.
  11. 11. 21 1. Introduce User-Centered Design[8] and involve users in the design process User centered design has been wildly successful when it comes to designing great products in the recent times. It is specifically pioneered by famous design consultancy firms like IDEO and Adaptive Path. This would require involving users early in the design process and iterate on their feedback. This can become especially helpful in gauging early on how comfortable a customer will be when interacting with the dashboard elements while he is driving. A number of test cases can be set up and the user’s interaction and behavior can be ethnographically observed. It is important to select people who fit in the profile of a potential customer. 2. Involve Board members in above steps If we look at how at the bigger picture of how a car is proposed, conceptualized and manufactured (illustrated on the previous page) board members approve every step of the physical design changes and provide feedback. They safeguard the progress and ensure that the changes are in line with the brand’s goals, history and objectives. Hence they need to be involved early on in the design process where they have a say in the experience design progress and changes. 3. Add an independent board member who has prominent background in design It would also be extremely beneficial to add another board member who would work independently and has a background in the field of design. They can best guide the rest of the board members once the new process of designing experience is added in to the concept car design process. Prospective candidates could include eminent people or founding members of promising design consultancy or people of research. Some common names who are actively involved in the field holding such a similar or advisory position would include Don Norman, JJ Garrett. PEOPLE & PROCESS
  12. 12. 23 Plan of Action Building on the strategy the following are objectified plans that ca be taken upon by the group and executed in a linear order: 1. Appoint an independent board member to the Volkswagen group board The Volkswagen group board decide to appoint another independent board member who would bring in fresh perspective to the Volkswagen group in terms of design. He can be a leading professor in the field of desing, eminent research person, founder or leader of a design consultancy. 2. Start a pilot program and hire a user experience consultancy The user experience consultancy could lead a pilot program to come up with the concept of a modern and rich dashboard meeting every expectation of the customers and having at the core a well thought out experience design. Since this pilot could possibly impact the other group’s companies there has to be no compromise in the selection and autonomy of their work. Leading user experience consultancy have publicly shown interest to work in this field, name TeehanLax, a San Francisco based company has done exemplary work in the field of technology experience design. Volkswagen group should fund the pilot program. The pilot program to last over a period of three months or as aligned with the development of the concept car. 3. Introduce the result in a concept car The work of the design consultancy should be introduced to a concept car being developed under the Volkswagen umbrella. The pilot program can last anywhere from 1-5 years and should conclude with the implementation of the concept design in a real production car. 4. Observation Period After the launch of the concept production car. The response would be studied and researched for a period of two to three years. During this time redesign and fine tuning of experience can be documented for future use.
  13. 13. 25 5. Spread the result of the pilot among the group companies The result of the pilot’s implementation should be documented and be reported to the board and have journals distributed to the group companies. Upon success of the pilot program, the group can setup training programs in association with the design consultancy firm. 6. Setup teams in group companies. Following training of employees in the design team, individual group companies can start recruiting and setting up their own user experience design teams which would function under their existing car design team. 8. Instruct group companies to hire an independent board member with design background The group companies would be appointed or advised to hire their own independent board member with design background. 10. Start quarterly reports from group companies regarding the progress of implementation of user experience Upon implementation of all the above programs and having successful ly built a group culture of leveraging user experience design the practice would become commonandapartofthedailyoperation.Thenthegroupcanstartacasestudyprogram in which group companies share their success or findings in the form or research case studies among the group.
  14. 14. 27 [1] Forlizzi 2004. Understanding Experience in Interactive Systems [2] Gorp, T. Van and Adams, E. Design for Emotion. Elsevier 2012. 1-18 [3] Dewey, J. Having an Experience. Art as Experience 1934. 1-18 [4] Russon, J. The Forms of Human Exprience:Interpretation in Human Experience. Albany: State University of New York Press. 9-20 [5] Csikszenmihalyi, M. and Robinson. The Major Dimensions of Aesthetic Experience. 27-72 [6] McCarthy, J. and Wright, P., Technology as Experience. MIT Press 2004. 1-105 [7] McCarthy, J. and Wright, P., Empathy and Experience in HCI. CHI 2008 Proceedings [8] Goodman, E., Kuniavsky, M. and Moed, A. Observing the User Experience. Elsevier 2012 Tullis, T. and Albert, B. Measuring the User Experience. Morgan Kaufmann Sauro, J. and Lewis, J. R. Quantifying the User Experience.Morgan Kaufmann [9] Eisner, E. Connoisseurship, Criticism and the Art of Education [10] Nakamura and Csikszenmihalyi, M. The Concept of Flow [11] Norman, D. Emotional Machines in Emotional Design [12] Borgmann, A. Reality of Technology [13] Janlert and Stolterman, E. Faceless Interactions - A Conceptual Examination of the Notion of Interface: Past, Present and Future [14] Dieter Rams in Objectified. Gary Hustwit. 2009 [15] Teehan, G. State of in-car UX in car-ux/ [16] Nielsen, J. and Norman, D. Definition of User Experience in http://www.nngroup. com/articles/definition-user-experience/ References