“Even adjusting the volume of the radio is difficult.”

A recent article from Consumer Reports reminds me of an IxDA meetup from back in 2010. It was hosted by IDEO at their then brand new Chicago studio, brilliantly timed with the announcement that week of MyFord Touch.

The design team talked about the process they went through, including hacking together a real car’s steering wheel, their center stack prototype, and a PS3 running Gran Turismo. They showed some novel concepts for navigation which didn’t rely on game controller-like direction-pads or tons of buttons on the steering wheel, while stressing how deliberate and important the physical buttons and knobs were in their center stack design.

And then they played a clip of Ford's PR rep giving a demo of MyFord Touch. (I tried and failed to find the exact video on YouTube.) The PR rep stressed multiple times how important it was to have d-pads on the steering wheel and a big touchscreen because they felt they were intuitive to their customers. (Remember, this is before the launch of the iPad.) The IDEO folks made no comment after showing the video.

Now if the designers were at all like me, they’d be proud of their work no doubt, and happy to show it off, which they did. However, it doesn't seem a stretch to imagine they'd be pretty bothered by the piecemeal approach Ford took to implementing their advice. Here we are years later thinking just perhaps Ford should’ve listened.