Defining the electromobility revolution with new terminology that’s user friendly and impactful
Electromobility is the future of the automotive industry. A future defined by new technologies, new targets, new functions and… a new language. In fact, language in automotive is entering a new era: The electromobility era.
Why is there a need for new terminology?
Creating new terminology for new technology is not a new concept. When innovations, processes and ideas cannot be described using existing terms, we must create new words. As technology advancements happen with increasing frequency, this need to create new terms has become quite common. Likewise, the acceptance and adoption of new terminology is increasingly easy for users, yet these terms aren’t always easy to create. If a new term is created without due thought for the user, the word can be rejected completely; this causes a huge obstacle for the technology. So how do you create terminology that aids adoption of your new tech? What terminology helps users understand, while helping your product on the market?
Back up a second, what is terminology? And does electromobility need it?
Terminology refers to the special words and expressions that are used in connection with a specific subject; these words are only used within this particular context.
With the start of the electromobility era, we see a fusion of two specific sectors; automotive and electricity. Both sectors have their own terminology, so their fusion requires new terminology for electromobility to be created. Here is what to consider:
Compared to conventional vehicles, electric cars use different technical equipment and have innovative functionalities. For example, instead of the fuel level, the State of Charge is displayed in an electric car. And, to measure an electric car’s energy consumption, the amount of kilowatt-hours (not liters of petrol per 100km or miles to the gallon) is relevant.
All these different and new functionalities of an electric vehicle need names that the driver can easily understand so he/she is able to use the car intuitively and safely.
This is challenging for car manufacturers (as well as drivers) who come across a large number of new terms used in association with e-mobility. Drivers expect comprehensible, intuitive and to-the-point terminology to ensure a great driving experience.
Test yourself — do you know the meaning of these terms and abbreviations used in electric cars?
AC — Alternating Current. The type of current that comes out of a socket. It’s called ‘alternating’ because it periodically changes the direction it flows in. Its counterpart is DC (direct current), which only flows in one direction.
BEV — battery electric vehicle. The term is used to describe vehicles which are fully powered by batteries.
Recuperation — a method for regaining energy during the braking process. The recovered energy is used for charging the battery.
What makes great terminology?
Terms which deliver the message you want, in a way that users like and understand. The key is to create terminology that is user-friendly — having words or descriptions that are easy for the brain to process. So, what should user-friendly terminology be like?
It evokes connections in the mental lexicon. The more connections the brain makes to the new word, the better the user will accept it
It makes use of the frequency effect. When a new term has been created, it should be used frequently and consistently when promoting the new technology. If the terminology is used frequently, it is easier for the user to accept and remember
It plays with semantic relatedness. For creating new terms, you can use well-known words that are semantically related. This makes the new word easier to access
It shouldn’t be abbreviated. Abbreviations can create extra ambiguity and confusion, so they should be avoided when introducing new terms
How Luxoft can help you with creating user-friendly terminology
For emerging new fields like electromobility, a lot of new terminology must be defined quickly. This can often be frustrating for car manufactures, and it can take up a lot of resources, time and money. Here are five tips to help in the process: 5 tips for creating new user-friendly terminology
Use clear, easy to understand language. Choose everyday vocabulary that most people are familiar with over technical terms
Speak the language of your user. The terminology used internally in your company may not match your customer’s needs. Make sure to test new terminology to get valuable feedback from the user
Use the same terminology consistently. If a term is used consistently, users can infer the meaning based on their prior knowledge and deepen their understanding over time
Take advantage of existing terminology. Do not make up a new term for a functionality if a common word for it already exists.
Use unambiguous language. Make things clear for the user — avoid using terms that have a double meaning
We can support you by setting up an efficient, tested process for the creation of new terminology tailored to your user's needs. This process includes user testing to make sure that new terms are understandable, and that norms and legal requirements are fulfilled. Our solution will help you optimize related processes, reduce costs and save time.
Our User Experience Department has outstanding expertise and will deliver great user-centric solutions that work for any kind of new technology.
Contact Olaf Preissner to find out more about how we can support you with creating easily understandable terminology that will optimize the user experience and improve customer satisfaction.
Vice President UX Design
Olaf Preissner is an initiator of the UX/UI Design practice in Luxoft. He’s responsible for all automotive user experience design projects at Luxoft across the different locations including our Shanghai Design Studio. His focus is to develop state of the art solutions for advanced infotainment systems and mobility services.