So what’s going on in in-car dashboard design now.
I’m not going to touch infotainment system UI in this article as Teehan+Lax did it before. Instead I’ll focus on instrument panels or clusters usually hidden behind steering wheels that have to be a) informative, b) easy to read, c) well visible under any conditions (e.g. sunny), c) attractive and they shouldn’t distract (e.g. blinding at night).
I’ve seen many beautiful analogue dashboards from various car manufacturers for years. But time goes on and the industry needs to evolve, so nearly every auto maker started adding virtual LCD based dashboards to their cars by variety of reasons such as ability to customise layout and design, ability to switch between different modes, so driver may decide what is important personally for him at the moment, ability to add new functionality and fixing bugs by firmware upgrade and just because it’s modern and cool. First attempts seen in concept cars are something out of this world, these dashboards are impossible to read because of extraterrestrial fonts, WTF indicators, acid backlight, projected on multiple layers of glass data, etc. At the same time first production digital dashboards were skeuomorphic (resembled analogue gauges) and looked not that bad, but in most cases certainly could be improved by increasing screen resolution, fixing fonts, improving icons, spaces, etc. More modern production designs that tend to take after concept car dashboards still look lame in most cases, overloaded with distracting elements with no meaning. Overall there is a huge opportunity in in-car UI design now.
Faux BMW dashboard design.
And finally taking an opportunity showcasing my own attempt of dashboard design for BMW electric vehicle. During design I kept in mind core principles listed above as well as style inheritance which is essential for conservative BMW fans.
More pictures on my Behance page.