Monday, July 09, 2018

The Journals of Staggeringly Terrible Design, Vol. 1

I'm in Austin for a few days, and our rental vehicle is a Nissan Pathfinder.

The climate control system is one of the most ineptly designed in history. Seriously, a square wheel would top this in the design category.


Let's say you want to change the temperature inside the cabin, one of the simplest functions you'll do frequently in a car. Let's go!

Red Area
It's a touchscreen, but not all items listed on the screen have touch-enabled. You'd think that changing the temperature would be as easy as touching the temperature listed on the screen, but no. Sorry, that's not touchscreen enabled. So you can turn the AC on and off, and turn dual mode on and off, and even change the strength of the fan, but you can't change the temperature.

Blue Area
How's this for a jumbled, crappy mess? Using that while driving should be no problem at all, right? Pro tip : you have to hit the "Climate" button to display the red area on the touchscreen. You can also use the Antikythera mechanism in the center to adjust some climate settings--but not the temperature.

Yellow Area
Hey, it's a third area with climate controls, confusingly similar to the audio control bank located just above. THIS is where you can adjust the temperature up and down. With a dial.

Holy hell. Climate controls include touchscreen, button, and dial controls, in three separate areas. Some duplicate function in more than one area, while others are only available in one area.

I always tend to notice bad design, but this is so incredibly bad that it warranted special attention.

What caused this? I'm guessing it was this objective: allow the driver to adjust the cabin temperature without taking his eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.

That's a fine objective, but the driver will be taking his eyes off the road to check the new temperature setting anyway (because a dial can't give you that feedback--you have to look at the touchscreen), and letting the driver press "+" and "-" simplifies this unholy mess into something reasonably coherent.

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