loadingImagine this: a “Time to leave for meeting” message pops up on your phone. You leave the office, look up the address and get into your car – which you have unlocked remotely – and start the engine. You type in the address and hit ‘Go’, only to find that the in-car navigation responds with “Please Wait”. It does not give you any indication of how long you will have to wait, in fact, you get no response from the system whatsoever.

Once upon a time, it seemed acceptable to use billion dollar satellites as data-providers for car navigation systems with the processing speed of a walnut, rendering the solution to the end-user’s problem defunct. Maybe you have never noticed, but in-car navigation makes you wait instead of drive “by design”.

Now imagine the following. The “time to leave for meeting” message pops up on your phone. You leave the office, look up the address and get into your car. You unlock it remotely, and the car – preemptively – starts its navigation system. You get in, and the system asks for a destination. No menu or dialogue: a quick “Where do you want to go?” with an input field suffices. You answer, start the car and you are good to go.

To any user experience designer or tester, it is unthinkable that during the only time that a user needs to interact with the system (i.e. after “getting into the car”, before “driving away”), it is unavailable. And in-car navigation is just one example; within the vehicle alone the dashboard and user interface are filled with items that are either illogical or dangerous so that you have to learn to cope with them and multitask during driving.

So how would and do we get from the first scenario to the much more agreeable second scenario? Part of the solution is to keep the design team involved during development and properly utilise skills in understanding end-user behavior and main user stories. Quality management would recognise the issue described in scenario one as an ordinary system failure, identifiable with a simple interaction analysis or usability test.

A better blend of skillsets during quality analysis can, without a doubt, lead to easier mapping of technical failures to essential user-stories. Best practice guidlines include involving design thinking in development, and involving the users early and often. Because once a development team loses track of the end-user’s needs and nobody is there to point that out, eventually and inevitably you will end up with a car that makes a driver wait instead of drive.

To read the original post and add comments, please visit the SogetiLabs blog: 
Design Thinking in Engineering 

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Etienne Bertou AUTHOR:
Etienne Bertou has been Project Lead & Lead UX for Sogeti Netherlands since the fall of 2013. He combines technology creatively with strong product design skills in order to challenge the status quo. As initiator of the HeartUX interest group he invites researchers, designers and engineers to adopt a more critical view on Product Design and UX Engineering.

Posted in: Developers, Digital, Human Interaction Testing, Internet of Things, Quality Assurance, Software Development, SogetiLabs, Usability Testing, User Interface, user stories      
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