Usability Testing in the Automotive Sector

The joy of use and ease of operation experienced in the cabin of an automobile are crucial factors for determining a customer’s overall satisfaction with the vehicle. The cabin represents the quality, technique and image of the whole car and the brand. If the dashboard is not user-friendly, customers get frustrated and dissatisfied with the car, and possibly with the brand overall.

Prototypes are tested during the development process to examine cabin designs or integral functions such as the navigation system, wipers or displays. Test results help in improving the design before market entry.

  • Which questions can be answered?

    • How important and relevant are the different functions?
    • Are all functions easily located and accessible?
    • Do users perceive the operation of functions as intuitive and easy?
    • Are all symbols and labels understandable?
    • Is the design and shape supportive of the operation?
    • Why are functions difficult to find and/or operate? What errors were made?
    • How do consumers perceive the design of the dashboard? Does the dashboard represent the brand, regarding quality, design and operating logic?
    • Learnability: how easy or difficult would it be to operate the functions after not having used them for a year?
    • What part of the cabin can be improved to fulfill customers’ needs and expectations?
    • What differences do consumers notice in comparison to competitor or former vehicles?
  • How does a usability test work?

    • Recruitment regarding special quotas, e.g., vehicle brands and models
    • Conducted by experienced interviewers
    • Sample flow:
      • First, the interview could include questions about vehicle usage and experience
      • Next could be an active driving experience, or evaluation in a simulator including first impressions and opinions
      • Lastly, the interview would include the final, comprehensive evaluation
    • Conducting use cases (under the same conditions for every respondent) to ascertain the intuitiveness of functions and reveal difficulties and operating errors. Use cases are conducted while driving on a test track, a test route in normal streets or in a simulator
    • Observation of the respondent (during the use cases) by the interviewer, to learn how the respondent tries to accomplish the use cases; notation of operator errors
    • Spontaneous evaluation of the operation by the respondent, as well as a standardized interview regarding:
      • Likes and dislikes
      • Brand fit
      • Strengths and weaknesses of operating logic
      • Comparison with own vehicle or competitor vehicles
      • Overall satisfaction
  • Different types of usability tests

    1. Driving simulator (static or dynamic) at early stage of development

    • Driving simulator lab at the clients’ facility
    • New cabin in the simulator
    • Respondent conducts different use cases while in the simulator 
    • Interviews before and after the driving simulation

    2. Test Track

    • Vehicle design is confidential requiring high security conditions
    • Interview includes active driving on the test track where the respondent conducts different use cases while oeprating the vehicle
    • Interviews before and after the driving experience

    3. Test route on a normal street

    • With normal vehicle (street-legal) but with confidential cabin or parts of a cabin
    • Interview includes active driving on the normal street where the respondent conducts different use cases while operating the vehicle
    • Interviews before and after the driving experience

    Industry Expertise

    Psyma has successfully conducted several usability tests for the automotive sector:
    BMW, BMW Motorrad, MINI, Audi, Rolls Royce, Valeo

Psyma Group AG

Rueckersdorf/Nuremberg Germany
Phone: +49 (0)911 99574-0