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This 20 Year Old Toyota Sienna HVAC Design Is Garbage And I’m Not Having It – The

I’m not going to hold my breath that Toyota will suddenly issue a recall of all the nearly 20-year-old Sienna minivans to solve the HVAC Is Garbage problem. But in a hypothetical ideal world, a world of peace and tranquility, where mud is Nutella and friendly birds land on your shoulder and whisper hot stock tips to you, the recall would be underway right now.

Yes, for real. Because this human-machine interface misstep is so annoying, so preventable, I simply must talk about it in hopes of preventing such miseries from ever happening again.

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This design failure is on the HVAC controls of the $500 2006 Toyota Sienna that David gave me after my heart exploded, because dropping off high-mileage cars in your driveway is how David shows he cares. Here’s the specific problem:

Siennahvac 0

Can you see the issue here? I’ll highlight it, just in case:

Siennahvac 1

Now do you see? What’s going on is that there is a label there, TEMP, just over an adjustment rocker switch. At a glance, it seems like that switch controls the TEMP (you know, for temperature, the same stuff used to cook frozen pizzas) because it appears to be prominently labelled so.

Of course, that’s not the case. The actual temperature control is here, highlighted in red:

Siennahvac 2

The two-way switch that seems to be labeled TEMP is actually the fan switch, and there’s a little fan icon (I’m pretty sure it’s not a four-leaf clover, which would make that switch a LUCK setting switch, something I don’t think is included in most cars) to let you know that the rocker controls the fan speed.

See the problem here? At a glance, you look at that screen and you see TEMP and a control switch with two directions on it, so why wouldn’t you assume that was how the temperature is controlled?

The problem is when you go to adjust the temperature higher, you’re actually increasing the fan speed, and you’re rewarded with not warmer air, but, usually, colder, because you’ve increased the fan velocity and now you’re being blown with air that you had determined to be not warm enough as it is.

The actual TEMP control button is just far removed enough from the main focal point of the HVAC system, that vacuum-fluorescent display (VFD), so it’s surprisingly easy to overlook.

I don’t understand how this wasn’t shown to be a problem in focus groups. Everyone I’ve seen try to adjust the temperature in this van has made the same damn mistake, and it is not the fault of those people. It’s bad UX.

It would be easy to fix, too! I think there’s a few ways to fix this, but one that could have been quite cheap and easy is also one that’s interesting, conceptually. They designed what that VFD can display, so if they added labels into the display itself, as opposed to silkscreened on the clear plastic lens, like this: Siennahvac Fix

…then I think all confusion would be eliminated, completely. I mean, look at that – there’s no doubt what those labels are referring to now that they’re part of the electronic display. The cost difference here would be negligible, if any at all – instead of having to silkscreen text on that lens, they just design the VFD to have three more illuminated shapes, the labels. Easy, cheap.

It’s interesting how differently our brains interpret the labels in the display as very clearly referring to the other, similarly-colored elements in the display, as opposed to the white printed text, which visually has much more in common with how buttons and switches are labeled.

I think that’s the root of the problem here: a grammar was developed, where white, printed-on text refers to controls and that aqua-colored illuminated display text refers to labels of information being displayed. They’re two very different things, and when Toyota tried to label information display elements on the screen with the look and feel of how they label directly-manipulable controls, the whole thing breaks down, because they broke their own rules of visual grammar they established.

This may seem to be a trivial problem with a car long out of production, but I think the lesson here is still valid, and still important. Details matter, especially when it comes to the way we control the features of our car, and visual looks, and visual grammar and rules are a real thing, and can make the difference between controls so good you don’t even realize you’re using them and controls so annoying you want to crowbar the whole damn HVAC unit out and fling it out the window every time you just want to get warmer but end up being blasted with a burst of unwanted cool air.

Details matter. Toyota, you’re welcome to use my fix approach for all second-generation Toyota Siennas (2004-2010) when you issue your recall and fix. You’re welcome.

 

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This article was originally published by a www.theautopian.com . Read the Original article here. .

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