Ford restructures design process to focus on customer experience

The car-maker says it is investing in social science and ethnographic research in a bit to create a more holistic user-experience.

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Car-maker Ford says it is restructuring its design process to focus on customer experience rather than just looking at technology and vehicle design.

The company says it is rolling out global investment in “social science-based research” with an aim of understanding “the cognitive, social, cultural, technological and economic nuances that affect product design”.

Raj Nair, executive vice-president of product development and chief technical officer for Ford, says: “The challenge going forward isn’t who provides the most technology in a vehicle but who best organises that technology in a way that most excites and delights people.”

Doubling use of ethnographic research

Ford says that it has brought in a team of social scientists and next year plans to double the number of its projects that use ethnographic research.

So far, the research team has examined topics such as the future of luxury transport, how people form relationships with their cars and the role of trucks in the US.

The company says it is also overhauling its design process, so that designers no longer just sketch products, but now create “full customer experience illustrations that visualise the experience each product is meant to deliver”.

Considering the way customers interact with vehicles

Nair says: “As both an auto and a mobility company, we at Ford are going further than just designing the product to move people from point A to point B.

“We are considering the way customers interact with our vehicles as a unified experience, looking for ways to excite and delight customers and make their lives better.”

Ford says it has already been using this design technique in its Ford Smart Mobility plan, which launched at the start of the year.

Smart Mobility

The Ford Smart Mobility plan is an initiative to look at the way people travel, rather than just focusing on car design.

Ford president Mark Fields says: ““We see a world where vehicles talk to one another, drivers and vehicles communicate with the city infrastructure to relieve congestion, and people routinely share vehicles or multiple forms of transportation for their daily commute.

“The experiments we’re undertaking today will lead to an all-new model of transportation and mobility within the next 10 years and beyond.”

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