Closing the Distance Between Design Intent and User Experience
UX Corner

Closing the Distance Between Design Intent and User Experience

Dan Haggerty • November 30, 2017

Last year, there were more cars than phones connected to cell service.

With smartphone penetration in the United States already standing at 84%, the market has been practically exhausted. Connected cars, on the other hand, have a lot of room to grow. According to a market study from Statista, the penetration rate of connected cars in 2017 is 12%.

Continued connected car adoption will hinge on two main factors. The first is how connected cars integrate with third-party apps, which was discussed in part one of this blog series.

There is, however, a bigger bottleneck product developers in all industries know to be true: Design intent does not always align with user expectations.

Who among us hasn’t downloaded an app, quickly gotten acquainted with its features, only to delete it a few minutes later?

The problem is that products are often not built for real-life usage.

While a cooking app, for example, may have all the ingredients an amateur chef is looking for in order to create a new dish, the lack of a hands-free feature may cause the user discomfort when trying to navigate the app with hands that are covered in egg and flower.

So it goes for connected car companies.

Vinay Vaddadi, Engineering Manager of Connected Vehicle & Services at Ford, presented at DigitalXChange ’17 about the challenges facing connected car companies.

“I have to really understand how my customers are using this product when they are on a highway going 70 miles per hour, kids screaming in the backseat, and they are trying to use a voice command,” said Vaddadi during his presentation.

For connected cars to truly succeed, brands have to realize that consumers will always choose the path of least resistance.

“The path most travelled is not the path that has been designed and paved. The closer the distance between the two paths, the better the success of the product,” said Vaddadi.

How can companies bring these two paths closer together?

The key is predicting what customers want before products are released, or before they are even designed. The only way to reliably and consistently do this is to go straight to the source and ask actual customers. After all, who knows what Ford drivers want better than Ford drivers themselves?

Vaddadi is able to leverage Applause to more fully understand the needs and wants of Ford customers. By doing so, the company can reliably predict how real customers will use its connected cars in the real world.

“Having access to crowdtesting not only gives you access to the new disruptive technology that is changing every day, but also to the users who are using it in real time,” said Vaddadi. “Having the ability to do that definitely added a lot of value and improved our quality.”

Check out Vaddadi’s full presentation from DigitalXChange to learn more:


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