Customize to conquer clutter
Designing a connected dashboard for cars is an art of balance. How can we let in the deluge of digital services without jeopardizing the simplicity (and thereby safety and usability) of the dashboard UX? There are many aspects to this problem: touch/voice integration, task vs. app usage model, unified login, consistent screen layout, etc. Today I want to focus on customization as a key weapon in your battle to conquer clutter on the touch screen.
Customization of the home screen is the tool that will allow your user to migrate from newbies to power user without getting frustrated with your head unit. When we have a new user, clearly they don't know where to start. They will need to be presented with a set of generic choices and guided through them to get to their final desired activity. However, after awhile, drivers will pretty much get into a groove and have a core set of 4-7 activities that they do the vast majority of the time.
A well designed UX will allow those core activities to be at the driver's finger tips with one touch, pushing the more generic activities down the to the list. It's important to note, though, that cars can have more than one driver, so those customizations really need to be set on a per driver basis. One person's ideally optimized home screen can be a confusing mess to another driver.
Given the importance of per-user custom layouts, we designed into MT-One the ability to store custom layout information inside each driver's account on the cloud service. That way when the driver sits down, their home screen is right there waiting for them, enhancing functionality as well as safety. They have what they want, where they want it, at one touch.
Here is an automotive dashboard designed on top of MT-One. This first picture shows my default home screen. As you can see, the options are very generic, allowing the user to drill down through the various tasks to find what they want.
Since I drink inordinately large amounts of coffee, the first thing I end up doing is drilling down through the category menus in the business search to find coffee. Something that is OK to do the first time, but something of which I will quickly grow tired.
In this picture, the problem is solved. I have customized the home screen to have one touch access to search for coffee nearby using the Yelp service. Now as I am driving, instead of having to drill down through the menus to find a coffee shop, I just touch the one button and the search happens. Since the configuration is stored in the MT-One cloud, any car or device I log into will have this same starting layout.