The launch of the new Renault logo, one designed to translate better digitally, caused one of our directors to look at his beloved Zoe in a whole new light. Ross has mentioned on several occasions that he wished Renault would update their in-car entertainment systems and the recent stir caused by the new logo gave him the prime opportunity to challenge the Strafe designers with giving his Renault Zoe in-car system a much-needed upgrade.
Understanding that we were unable to track down the new Renault branding guidelines, we felt it was best to simply focus on the UX and generally modernise the system rather than just implementing the new logo. Taking this into account, we believe our redesigned version is a huge improvement on what Renault currently offers and we hope you do too!
Renault Zoe was analysed and reimagined by:
As you can imagine, this instalment of our reimagined series is slightly different to those that came before. Having already looked at redesigning traditional web homepages we have decided to take a step sideways into other types of digital products.
Although we are still analysing a product from a well-known brand with the aim of making suggestions on how we could boost and simplify the user experience, this time we won’t be following the same conversion lead analysis as demonstrated by our previous posts, but rather putting the emphasis on the usability and accessibility of the dashboard interface. We will explore all the essential functions, the driving environment in which users will operate the application, whether or not the current user journey (whilst driving) is intuitive and clear before implementing some simple but effective changes.
Let's break it down...
It is important to understand that generally, the Renault Zoe dashboard isn’t a bad media system, it just simply falls short in terms of usability due to the fact that it is a touch screen system on a car dashboard that is difficult to use when driving.
The general feeling is that this interface is well designed, however, as you get further into the experience it becomes apparent that the system clearly wasn’t tested in a car. It feels like Renault really hasn’t considered the product in terms of real-life application and how this will be used on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this isn’t unusual for large brands and is often missed during the creation of new interactive products i.e. failing to take into consideration the real-life context of the product during the design stage.
Changing the source...
Despite the image below, changing the audio source on the Zoe media system is not as straight forward as we might be led to believe. Although there is no standout instruction to select the audio display section, the system relies on the clear presumption that not only the area is clickable but that this is always the starting point to change the source. As the current audio display i.e radio or aux is selected, the user is then taken to another screen that offers up a large selection of displays and options for the user, however, there is still no clarity on which option will change the audio source.
In fact, it is a small awkward + button in the bottom right-hand corner that needs to be selected. This is clearly a button that a user would want to use whilst driving, however, its disproportionate size makes it very difficult for them to select especially if they were battling the usual vibrations of a car journey. The challenges with button selection do not stop there as the previous action then pops up another, smaller again, menu with a list of various user options. It would seem as the user gets further into the system the buttons appear to get smaller, harder to read and harder to select whilst driving before they can finally change the audio source.
The idea of consistency is not a bad one as having a + button across all displays to provide additional options will help to encourage specific behaviours as users interact with the dashboard. However, from this point onwards the concept of consistency starts to feel underdeveloped, as it remains unclear what options will be available when selecting the + button as they often change depending on the screen in which the user is on when making the selection.
At a first glance, I was immediately drawn to the size of the buttons on the dashboard screen, they appear to be disproportionately small, especially when you consider that these buttons need to be easy to select when the car is moving. Are they thinking that the smooth drive of an electric car would eliminate the usual motor vibrations of the driving experience?
The size of clickable elements is an aspect of a digital product that warrants heavy consideration, on the whole striking a balance for button size often portrays the view that the product in its entirety is well balanced. Buttons that are too small can really frustrate the user just the same as having buttons that are too big. The current display provides no additional context as to why the buttons are so small, for example, if vital metrics were taking up lots of space we could probably come to understand why some of the buttons are small, however, it is actually the opposite with several large areas of the screen displaying little or no information to the user.
The buttons continue to cause issues as at times they appear to unexpectedly switch function partway through some processes once started by the user. For example, during a phone call, the bottom central Star button changes repeatedly, first to become the end call button and then again to become the redial button. Although on the face of it this doesn’t appear to be a big issue, it is the time in which the button switches function that causes the most concern. Let me explain, if the driver wants to hang up the phone by hitting the central button, but the other caller on the line has already ended the call without the driver realising, the Star button changes its function to become a redial button, meaning that the driver could end up redialling by mistake rather than ending the call as expected.
Having a counterintuitive process like this leaves far too much room for error whilst driving. This could be very distracting to some drivers depending on how well they adjust to unexpected circumstances but I for one, know several drivers who might be startled at this unexpected change or panic trying to hang up.
Larger and more intuitive buttons to use whilst on the move.
A central control panel, which allows users to complete all key actions with a single click.
A user experience fitting for the brand.
Implementing clear colour association helps enforce easy navigation.
The value of the main display...
In a small electric car, with not a massive amount of miles in ‘the tank’, 80-90% of the time the driver will know where they are going, and won’t need the Sat Nav map displayed at all times, so why does the Sat Nav display take pride and place on the dashboard? To me, there are several features that are more valuable to the driver and even if Renault were adamant that the display stays on the main screen, there are other ways to ensure that it is useful and proportionate to its necessity.
Although the design looks great, it feels as though it was designed to look cool rather than being designed to reflect what the user will really need or use during regular journeys. Despite being fairly unused and not adding any real value to the user experience for the type of vehicle that the Zoe is, the Sat Nav doesn’t warrant the valuable real estate that it occupies.
Another display that feels unnecessary is the Flow button, this button allows the driver to see how the electric energy powering the car is utilised when driving. Although it looks really cool and has a slick visual, we need to really think about what key metrics need to be accessible to the driver on the main dashboard display because, currently, it appears that three-quarters of the screen is taken up by elements that just aren’t needed on a daily basis.
Interactive user platforms like this need to be designed taking into account the overall purpose of the system, we should focus on the user’s main goals when engaging with the system i.e. making hands-free calls and switching between audio sources. Additionally, the Sat Nav is important but in terms of function hierarchy, in comparison to the others mentioned it just doesn’t measure up in the same way so this should be a secondary feature, not the primary display.
Ultimately, the main display screen feels rather useless, to the point that where the main display doesn’t even recall the last function that was used in the vehicle, meaning the process is always the same when you get into the car, lots of clicks and changes to the defaults to find the settings you prefer for your journey.
Redesigning to help convert and improve their online experience
The user is in the driving seat
The Strafe design team is always looking at ways that they can help businesses build and thrive, specifically by applying our UX and conversion expertise. We were excited to analyse the Renault Zoe dashboard interface because it gave us an opportunity to solely focus on the user experience without being governed by the need for website conversions.
As the Renault Zoe pushing the limits of what a little electric car can do, we wanted to show that it is also possible to push the norms of an in-car touch screen system.
“Technology is always evolving and improving, but the user experience is essential to successful innovation.
Senior Project Manager
Applying Strafe expertise
During this redesign, we tried to really explore how we could make the touch screen system more user friendly by carefully considering the main functions a driver would like to access with ease. Landing on a couple of key metrics, we centred the design around two specific journeys, the first being the process of change the audio source i.e. from radio to auxiliary and the second being the process of answering your mobile phone when it is using the Bluetooth connection.
So, how did we resolve the issues?
Although we had areas of focus, we really wanted to tidy up the full user flow. We worked hard to reduce the number of display variations experienced by the user when interacting with the system. We introduced a clear control panel that remains on show at all times. We also carefully considered how to use best the screen space available, the essential functions needed and produced a design with appropriately sized buttons for the driver to select.
We also implemented colours and icons to make the information easier to digest at a glance, colours and icons that a driver would instinctively relate with particular actions i.e. green phone icon to answer a call, a red phone icon to end the call and blue used throughout to reflect what audio source is currently in use.
We focused on making all buttons clearly clickable, providing the most intuitive action.
We implemented a clear divide between key functions and secondary setting options for use of use.
In conclusion: User environment is everything!
Ultimately, the user experience here just isn’t as good as it can be, there are far too many buttons that need to be clicked through to get to the point of changing the source, all of which are counterintuitive and difficult to select which makes it very easy to almost force the user into selecting a wrong option.
To echo my earlier comments, the current Zoe in-car system just isn’t fit for purpose. Although on the face of it, the screens look well designed and feel very tech-focused, the environment in which the user will be interacting with the product, i.e. driving, just hasn’t been fully considered during the design or build stages. This has left us, here at Strafe, considerable room to improve the user experience and focus on the key functionality of an in-car system.
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