The brilliant Don Norman has posted an article that could save Chrysler if Cerberus and the private equity guys followed his advice. Norman asks a simple design question: How can you design a safe car when people insist on “programming navigation systems while driving, dialing telephone numbers, changing radio stations, or selecting which piece of music to listen to.” In short, how do you design the interactions between people and this growing number of things they insist on having and using while they drive?
Norman frames his question narrowly—focussing on the human-centered interaction design community. “The automobile industry is badly in need of guidance on human factors. Excellent people already work in the companies, but they suffer the problems faced within the consumer electronics and computer industries over the past few decades. This is an important arena, one where human-centered design skills are essential. But success will come only when our discipline can provide seasoned managers who know how to work across disciplines, with engineers, designers (stylists), manufacturing, marketing and, of course, upper management. There should be an automobile in HCI’s future: but to make this happen presents a challenging problem in management, politics, and diplomacy.”
But the larger issue is for the car industry and Chrysler in particular. Here is a fantastic chance to add value to cars and driving. Here is a wonderful way to beat out the competition. Designing interactions and experiences, not just style, can save the US automobile industry.
Listen to Don.
And thanks to Mark Vanderbeekan and the crowd at the experientia blog for pointing this out to me.