Interaction design is everywhere. This blog is my moderately academic attempt to capture as many instances of interaction design as I possibly can.
RepairPal is a mobile app that makes locating automative shops and estimates much easier. As the owner of an older vehicle, this mobile app has become a close companion. While RepairPal’s user experience is already exceptional, it too can improve.
Let’s consider a common scenario (common if you’re in the state of Texas). I need to get an estimate of how much it will cost to get my A/C diagnosed. Here is the current process for doing so:
This seems harmless enough. I input my vehicle’s make and model then search through categories until I find “Air Conditioning Diagnosis.” However, this process fails to show that I had to sift through 10 categories and 114 subcategories until I could arrive at the Air Conditioning Diagnosis subcategory. Here’s a quick screenshot of each of those categories and sub-categories in an Excel spreadsheet.
The problem is not the amount of choices available. An application that must accommodate an array of repairs for an array of vehicles shouldn’t aim to minimize the number of car repair choices available. Additionally, the choices are arranged under very intuitive categories. However, users shouldn’t have to sift through that much information to find what they are looking for.
By tweaking the presentation of the categories, an improved user experience can be achieved. Our first design option is inspired by the heavily practiced tabbed formation from web design.
The user is forced to process fewer amounts of information up front, while still being provided the same amount of information. Our second design option is a [liberally formatted] button approach.
As you can see there are some visual symmetry issues to resolve with the layout of the buttons, but the main idea is to guide the user from one clump of information to the next instead of dumping everything on him or her at once. Reveal what the user needs to know in the present and conceal what they need to know in the future.
As I said before, I am a huge fan of the RepairPal app. I have already saved myself a lot of money and heartache by consulting the application. But with these minor design improvements, the RepairPal app can easily go from exceptional to extraordinary.
Wireframe templates by Konigi.