From the latest article on UXMag.com.
Looking back, the early 21st century will be considered the age of UX Epiphany. For nearly fifty years, we languished with knobs and buttons where styling was only the consideration of plasticized curves.
The last decade, however, has seen an onslaught of new user interfaces and associated modalities bringing a paradigm shift about a company’s holistic product; sleekness is measured when it is electrically alive as well as mechanically alive. Dr. William Gribbons said it best in his article The Four Waves of User-Centered Design.”
“In the most demanding markets, user experience became part of a product’s brand and was carefully orchestrated across every touch point with the customer.”
In response to this recent explosion in UX, Ford Motor Company has hired folks like Parrish Hanna and Chris Thibodeau—Global Director of Human-Machine Interface and Executive Manager of Global Product Planning for User Interface, Connectivity, and Infotainment respectively—to react and reshape Ford’s user experience.
Hanna’s past was non-automotive having spent years in the connected world with Motorola. “I came from consumer electronics and telecommunications, where you are always looking for a captive space in which to work, like a kitchen or living room. Automotive has that captive space, which makes a big difference. The challenge is to help the user with other elements such as dealing with comfort, efficiency, interactions like navigation, making a call, listening to music, etc. layered in a single space and controlled in multiple dimensions, not to mention adjusting things like momentum and braking. A great blend of physical and digital design challenges.”
Thibodeau, on the other hand, comes from a long history of automotive product development (Visteon, GM) with teams including user experience designers and researchers. “It takes a two-prong approach to plan and design effectively. Silo engineering is not the way to get great user experiences. Parrish and I help and strive to bring a cross-functional mindset.”
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with both of them and inquire about Ford’s new direction for user experience and the next generation of human-machine interfaces.