min read

User input equals error: the Elon Musk approach

Tesla takes the approach, all user input equals error. There’s a lot we can learn from that when we apply that ethos.

How Tesla Tackles UX Design

In a recent interview with podcast host Joe Rogan, Elon Musk was discussing the approach to a specific user experience for his new Tesla models and how they minimize the need for user input to improve user experience.

All User Input Equals Error.”

This is the mantra Tesla takes when looking at UX. Basically, whenever the user is required to take action, let’s treat that as an error in our UX design and see if there's an opportunity to optimize this part of the user journey.

The case in point focussed on a common user journey, getting to work:

  1. Unlock & enter the car with key or remote
  2. Start engine with key
  3. Shift gear into reverse
  4. Press down on the gas pedal with foot
  5. Come to a stop
  6. Shift to drive
  7. Make your way to work using maps or own knowledge
  8. Park the car

This is the simple version but let’s look at the optimizations Tesla have made to minimize the input from the user:

  1. Unlock & enter car:
  2. The key fob unlocks the car when a user has entered within 3 feet
  3. Start Engine
  4. Current models’ engines start when you press on the brake pedal and shift into gear
  5. Newer models will utilize outward-facing cameras to detect surroundings and make a judgement on the right direction the car will need to travel eg the car is in a garage there’s only one way to go shift into reverse to back out of the garage
  6. Make your way to work
  7. Suggestions pop-up on screen and tap. Most people have pretty regular routines, let’s utilize that to provide more accurate and relevant information for the user. If users already know the way to work, do they know the best route? Are there any accidents or additional congestion they’re unaware of? A faster route is available would you like to go that way?

Now let’s apply the same approach for someone who works in an office in the city. First, map out the user journey:

  1. Start the journey to work by car
  2. Arrive at the Car Park
  3. Gain access to the Car Park with a swipe through a boom gate.
  4. Find the allocated parking space or if there isn’t one, a booking may be required.
  5. Access the lift to your floor.
  6. Find an available desk on that floor or if there isn’t one, a booking may be required.
  7. Set up a meeting with some colleagues in one of the available meeting rooms.
  8. Attend the meeting; get the AV equipment working
  9. And so on.

Now let’s take the approach User Input Equals Error and combine it with PlaceOS Platform Integrations at each interaction point to streamline the experience:

  1. Start the journey to work by car
  2. Phone displays smart suggestions for travel destinations based on user preferences and past actions
  3. Arrive at the Car Park
  4. The Boom Gate Camera recognizes the Licence Plate and grants access to the car park.
  5. Car space has been automatically assigned with mobile wayfinding directing the user to the designated car space.
  6. Building Access can be cross-referenced against any BMS and User ID. No need for a touch panel to sign in.
  7. Lift Access is the same.
  8. A desk is automatically assigned with directions to the appropriate floor, zone, and space
  9. Colleagues in the same team have been assigned closely located desks based on key user parameters
  10. A meeting room is required for some collaborative work
  11. The user can look at a real-time map for meeting room availability and requirements with filters for room size and equipment needs.
  12. When any meeting attendee enters the room, lighting, AV equipment, and HVAC systems are activated.

When we map out the user journey it gives us clear context into who and where as well as the desired action. Only now can we start to make improvements at the right moments during the user journey. We can start to reduce the number of interactions required by the user and eventually things right into the background to what we call passive interactions, which you can learn more about in a recent article User Interface & User Experience.

If you’d like to learn more about the PlaceOS Platform, get in touch with one of our sales representatives and we will be happy to walk through how our extensive list of integrations and drivers are reshaping the workplace.

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