Ford SYNC: Internet of Things


 

Challenge
When they launched SYNC, Ford revolutionized the automotive industry by introducing the first standard, in-car system for hands-free voice control of your smart phone and MP3 player while driving. SYNC needed a dramatic launch campaign emphasizing its ease of use to educate and interest prospective car buyers and the media. Dealers also needed training in how to demonstrate and sell it, while Ford owners needed quick start guides for how to set it up and use it. However, SYNC initially came in 24 different car models, each with its own configuration of steering wheel controls and display interface. Each configuration needed its own dynamic and personalized set of step-by-step instructions.


 

Project Goals

  • Create demand by launching an omni-channel campaign to introduce and demonstrate SYNC as a revolutionary, simple and easy to use feature.
  • Position Ford as an innovative industry leader
  • Create online training for dealers and demos for use with prospective customers in the dealership.
  • Provide a SYNC owner’s website with dynamic, personalized Quick Start guides that made setting up and using SYNC simple, fast and easy.

 

Process

In order to meet the SYNC launch date, the project had to start before the SYNC system had been fully designed and installed in new models. After getting consensus with stakeholders and product owners on business, brand and user goals, the user experience and content teams did extensive pre-design research on prospective car buyers, dealer sales people and owners. We co-located to Ford World Headquarters near Detroit, collaborated with the SYNC engineering and marketing teams and created personas, strategy and a roadmap for the launch campaign, dealer training, dealership demos and owner quick start guides. Then we designed proofs of concept for them, did user research to validate and started producing content. Creating personalized Quick Start guides for a product wasn’t finished or installed yet was a particular challenge. We implemented a content management system that dynamically assembled each set of steps for each quick start guide based on the owner’s specific SYNC configuration. The quick start guides alone required 1,200 visual and text content objects to populate all the configurations and steps.

 

Results

Ford counts these SYNC projects as a dramatic success across all goals based on sales, dealer feedback and owner demand. SYNC now has many imitators. It has evolved into a sophisticated digital system for monitoring and controlling many vehicle functions and comes standard on most Ford vehicle lines.

 

My Role:  

User Experience and Content Strategy team lead for all tracks from the beginning of the engagement. Developed the strategy, wrote briefs, did research and testing and was hands-on in the creation of personas, user flows, information architecture, wireframes and content maps. I also supervised the technical writers and contributed to the quick start guides.

 

I am currently seeking new challenges and opportunities. You can reach me by phone or text at 617.877.9349 or email me at dougbolin@mac.com.

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