Special attention around helping with "range anxiety" and battery management as the concept of electric vehicles was quite new and the infrastructure undeveloped. The project lasted over three phases - initial research and ideation phase, a refinement phase and a stewardship phase where we guided the development from a design perspective as Ford worked with an independent development shop.
Ford enlisted IDEO to help design a way for EV (electric vehicles) and PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) drivers to manage charge and track of their vehicles.
As most people had very limited exposure to electric vehicles, few were familiar with the potential of them. A lot of the design effort were expended on dealing with 'range anxiety' and helping people plan trips and charging.
Curious fellow drivers would frequently approach the drivers at gas stations or parking lots and an impromptu Q&A sessions would ensue.
Especially PHEV owners who were able to push the electric motor to the limit thanks to the backup gas engine could explore the electric motor to it's maximum and report back to curious friends.
We designed a part of the app with "cards" with conversational stats e.g. "My longest drive on electricity was x miles," "I drive x miles per week but I only pay x for gas (PHEV drivers)" or "I go to the gas station once every 40 days."
We designed both the mobile and the web portal above.
Above, the more in-depth stats on the web portal.
• To design a mobile app that supports EV owners in exploring and managing their vehicles
• Project Lead (also an interaction designer), a researcher and me
• Towards the end, a freelance graphic designer
• 10 weeks
Working with the client team was challenging. A lot of detailed decisions were taken by the clients in a design-by-committee or superiors overriding previous decisions. On occasion, very detailed decisions e.g. if a link or a button should be used. It was tough to design while not feeling empowered and in control. But it was the reality and we had to work through and pick our battles.
Taking over the project from the initial IDEO team also came with some learnings. Even if we all worked for the same company, it was at times hard to understand the first teams decisions and rational. We trusted our colleagues and the quality of their work but at the same time we had to questions certain aspects of it. It gave us more empathy towards our clients that often "inherit" our work and have to take it forward.