Whenever we talk about design, we talk of websites and products. Every product has a design feature. Any designer can relate to the design issues in other fields.
Today, we’re going to focus on the plight of the sat nav. We’ve seen some major fails over the years. At the same time, we’ve spotted designs like Tom Tom that have blown us away.
Let’s look at some of the design features every single sat nav absolutely must have.
1. The Right Size Screen
This is your canvas and any design features have to conform to the size of the screen. The best satellite navigation systems will have at least a four-inch screen.
It’s more to do with practicality. You shouldn’t have to squint to read what’s on the screen. Also, people with larger fingers might struggle if it’s using a touchscreen.
2. Color Differentiation
Satellite navigation systems sometimes fall victim to a lack of color. The old-fashioned ones with a few lines on a beige map were ineffective. You couldn’t glance at them whilst driving. You had to stare at them to see what was on them.
The best systems have full color reproduction with lots of contrasts. Contrast helps drivers use instinct when drawing their eyes to certain areas.
For example, if your map is blue and green, use an orange menu bar to make it stand out. Full contrast makes sure the driver’s eyes aren’t drawn somewhere else when he glances over.
3. Automatic Turning
Something that every sat nav should have is an automatic turning system. On the map, when your car turns the map rotates with it.
It’s confusing to have to watch a map and convert the directions into where you’re currently facing now. Thankfully, the majority of modern sat navs already have this in place. Only the particularly cheap ones don’t have this feature in place.
4. Road Signage Option
Most drivers use the road signs available to them and the sat nav map to guide them. It’s still difficult to spot road signs in bad weather, though. Sat navs can now contend with this.
An example of this could be a widescreen sat nav with the map on one side and a road sign recognition screen on the other. This would enable you to see what signs are coming up. Not all sat navs can see where specific junctions are.
5. More Control Over Voice Control
Sat navs often fall victim to not providing enough control over the voice control system. A malfunctioning voice control system has been the subject of many jokes in the media. It’s a frustrating issue, though.
Better sat navs need to have more options for voice control. Options could include:
- Different voices.
- Voice recognition technology.
- Short and long directions.
6. Speed and Distance Widgets
Sat navs are expected to do more than just tell us where we’re going. Now they’re expected to act as virtual guides. It’s extremely useful to have a speed and distance widget. The speed widget helps us to monitor our speed whilst looking over at the sat nav. The distance widget also provides guidance when weather conditions are poor.
Overall, the general trend has moved towards expecting more. We want more for our money. Brands have changed their thinking and now have to offer as many features as possible. Sat navs have almost evolved into smartphones, in terms of functionality.
If you’re a designer yourself, you can learn from sat navs. Many of the design features can be applied to websites and smartphone applications. Apply these principles and your customers will get a better user experience.