UI/UX Design

Hydra’s total approach to vehicle design doesn’t stop at the interior or exterior. Our team includes experienced UI/UX design experts who specialize in seamlessly integrating the digital and physical experiences of a vehicle. As development shifts toward fully electric vehicles and even autonomous driving, there is increased emphasis on the digital interaction between the end user and the vehicle. Cars are at the forefront of smart technology, boasting a range of high-tech features and capabilities, so the success of a vehicle is now measured by its ease of use, smartphone integration and overall user-first approach to design. This is the intersection where user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design become an important aspect of the vehicle development process. The UI/UX design is primarily driven by the integration of screens, their size and other physical controls – and the functionality of software running these controls.

While some aspects of UI/UX design may seem small – such as the placement and visibility of tell-tale lights, gauges and messages – all of these small details have a large impact on how consumers experience the vehicle. Hydra is equipped with the expertise and capabilities to offer complete UX/UI design for any vehicle, including integration of operating software, instrumentation layout, screen interface and any other interactive digital touchpoints of the vehicle. As vehicles continue to evolve with an increasing focus on digital features, computer-centric operating systems and screen-based controls and instrumentation, UI/UX design is a critical aspect of new vehicle development and just as important as the exterior design, aerodynamics, trim and other details.

Conceptual Development

A UI/UX program starts with a conceptual phase, where we explore variations on how the vehicle’s screens navigate between apps and features. In this strategic process, detailed questions are considered that explore the end user experience, which can impact the interior design. For example – is it a cluster or a head unit, or both? Do they work together as a single platform, sharing data and content from one to another? Will tell-tale lights live outside of the screens in a hypervisor? What aspects of the UI remain on screen when apps such as navigation are opened? Critical questions like these help determine the optimal user experience and impact the hardware and software requirements of the design.

Design Exploration is important. Inspiration strikes in unique places. We try to explore without limits to come across new ideas, new colorways, new graphics that can be used in a production program. While the final design may not look as futuristic as these explorations, the explorations are an important part of the process. Its always easier to tone down a design to be more acceptable, its very difficult to start with a conventional design and then push it a little bit more futuristic.

UI/UX Flow

Our designers work with program developers to finesse the flow of UI/UX and screen layout and present the optimal recommendations within the context of the UI design and interface. It’s critically important that designers work alongside software developers at this stage to have a good understanding of how the UI will interact with the software data, to make sure that no compromises are made with the design.

Agile Sprints / Releases

As an early testing phase, developers will make an MVP (minimum viable product) that will do the most basic required functions and then add features to arrive at the final functionality. Various digital features are prioritized, ranging from vehicle drive to smartphone integration, and these features are added on in a range of Agile Sprints / Releases that explore functionality and continue to improve the software development.

Optimization and testing phases where we fine-tune the functionality and improve the operating speed of all software. From there, we refine the UI design and utilize simulators to test the functionality with consumers – even using advanced technology like gaze detection and heat maps to refine where users are looking on the interface and make sure that buttons are easily found and the UX is optimized. We can also conduct consumer research on the usability of the design to ensure the functionality is intuitive.

Software Updates

Like any other computer-based product, modern vehicles need to plan for over-the-air software updates. As part of our UI/UX design process, we work with developers to ensure that software updates are clearly identified, easily understood and adopted by the end user. This attention to ‘future-proofing’ the vehicle ensures that the quality of UX/UI does not diminish over time, and the vehicle remains at the cutting-edge of technology.

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