Kickoff Workshop: The Station Following UX Challenge
Our agency partner led a workshop in Dallas to review the Station Following feature, detail the user experience challenges, and create a rough outline for the testing protocol.
This illustration on the white board during the workshop details one of the high level research questions: How should the infotainment system cue the user on the transition from analog broadcast signal to streaming digital signal? Should there be an audio cue? And how do we notify the user as the transition to digital streaming may incur a cellular data cost when people are used to listening to the radio for free?
Kickoff Workshop: UX Map
Our agency partners drew this illustration for the kickoff workshop to detail the transition points between the HD Radio, analog radio, and streaming sources in complete station following experience. Although we had shared a basic graphic with the team previously, the large illustration during the workshop helped visualize the different questions at specific points during the end-to-end experience.
We conducted 3 sets of lab-based user research sessions, with each set consisting of 6 test subjects for a total of about 18 sessions.
The test setup was pretty amazing. The goal was to provide a reasonable facsimile of an automotive driving experience, and it was really effective given the price point for materials. The test subject sat in a gaming chair in front of a big screen TV playing an interactive driving simulation. The steering wheel and foot pedals controlled the driving simulation running on the moderator's Mac laptop. There were speakers in the room playing music from an iPad that simulated the infotainment touchscreen. The test moderator from our partner agency sat to the side.
User Research Sessions
To the side of the steering wheel, an Apple iPad simulated the vehicle's infotainment screen. On the iPad was an elaborate Keynote presentation that played music and looked like a real, functioning radio. The Keynote slides changed views based on user taps or timed intervals. We randomized the order of the scenarios throughout the test sessions to better control for presentation bias.
In one test scenario, we had the user concentrate on driving for around 5 minutes in a simulated terrestrial analog radio experience then transitioned with an audio alert tone to a streaming Internet source. We looked for clues and asked questions as to whether the user noticed what happened and whether they cared or it bothered them. We also asked questions regarding what they thought about why that transition happened, whether any costs were involved one way or the other, etc.
This image illustrates a sort of conceptual round trip. Using the 4 directional points, the outbound scenario for the first time experience had the user go from:
- (West) The terrestrial broadcast radio experience while the user is, for example, in the Big City
- (North) As the user drives out to the Countryside (over around 90 miles for FM), the radio signal grows weaker and a dialog eventually appears asking if the user would like to stream the station
- (East) If the user accepts the offer to stream, the user would enjoy listing to the station's streaming Internet feed even while driving across the country
Similarly, on the inbound trip from, say, another state back to the Big City, the infotainment system may automatically switch back to the terrestrial broadcast when the radio station's signal becomes strong enough. This is the path from East-South-West.
When the switch occurs at the North and South points, we tested a variety of audio cues to see which one drivers would like or tolerate the most. The answers were surprising.