I recently bought a Toyota Prius and was surprised to notice my driving behavior change to a more economical style of driving. Doing some research, I learned that I wasn’t alone in this. Much has been written about “the Prius Effect”—how the Prius and other hybrid vehicles change driving behavior by providing feedback that shows drivers how their actions affect their gas mileage. Some people view this as a positive effect, while others, who are annoyed by slow Prius drivers, view it negatively.
What causes Prius drivers to change their behavior? I believe that it’s the feedback that the Prius’s Multi-Information Display provides to drivers. This display consists of several screens, showing the current gas mileage, average gas mileage over various periods of time, and whether the gas or electric motor is currently powering the car. In this column, I’ll discuss the Prius’s information displays, in terms of the effects they have on drivers, the usefulness of the information that they provide, and the effectiveness of their design. Read More
Most fathers would do anything for their daughters, but Edwin Land took a simple question from his inquisitive child and changed the world of photography forever. “Why can’t I have them right away?” asked the small girl, as her father—a successful chemical scientist—took photographs on a family vacation.
Why couldn’t she have the photographs right away? Keep in mind the context of the time in which she asked this question. In 1943, photography was the realm of serious professionals and ambitious hobbyists. Photographers needed to learn about chemical reactions to develop film and make prints. While working in a special darkroom, they had to give photos various types of chemical baths and patiently wait for prints to dry. Just the sorts of things small girls are rarely interested in.
Have the photographs right away? Ridiculous! Incredible! Unfathomable? Or was it? Read More
Imagine that you’re driving your luxury car down the road when your front-seat passenger decides to change the radio station, and all of a sudden your car unexpectedly shuts down and comes to a screeching halt. This is exactly what happened to at least one owner of a 2015 Lincoln MKC. How did this happen? The location of the Engine Start/Stop button was where the driver or a passenger could inadvertently hit it. In this day and age of better UX design, how could this design have made it to market? Could usability testing have prevented this?
For our second topic, our panel discusses how to determine whether you’ve completed sufficient user research. How do you know when you’ve completed enough user research to inform product design? Is it a certain number of participants? A certain amount of time? Are we ever truly finished with user research? Read More