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MyFord Touch: Compelling or Overwhelming?

by Chris Schreiner | 2月 15, 2011

Ever since Consumer Reports (CR) published a rather scathing review of the MyFord Touch, I've been receiving a lot of questions from those in the automotive industry, particularly those who read my report last year on our user evaluation of the MyFord Touch.  CR criticized the system for being too distracting, by getting rid of traditional knobs and controls in favor of the touchscreen, soft keys, and steering wheel controls.  These new-fangled gadgets would be too confusing, and according to CR "(f)irst-time users might find it impossible to comprehend".


There is one major difference between our study and the CR review: the CR review was basically an expert evaluation - one person using the system for a short period of time. Our study was a full user evaluation. Actual consumers sitting in the vehicle performing real tasks while we obtained quantitative data and qualitative feedback on the user experience.  What we saw was clear.

Users did initially see MyFord Touch as "overwhelming" and "potentially distracting."  But that was only their initial impression.  Once they got into the system and performed tasks with it, they were also overwhelmed - but this time by how compelling their experience was with the system. The embedded speech recognition engine was particularly compelling, and users consistently favored voice over manual controls, as they deemed it easier and safer to perform tasks by voice. This was true for techies as well as for the technologically challenged.  The multiple ways of performing each task were also not seen as confusing, but as a benefit allowing them to choose the manner in which they do what they want.

So if one only looks at first impressions, then yes the MyFord Touch may appear overwhelming, difficult to comprehend, and distracting. Once users experience it, it is a whole different story. Ford's challenge is to find a way to get consumers over that first-impression hurdle and not be scared off by the lack of familiar and increasingly outdated controls.

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