TL;DR: This post is an incredibly petty example of how Lexus improved an already perfectly positioned parking brake. Seriously.
"Don’t give people what they want; give them what they need." - Joss Whedon
We've all heard this quote a thousand times; sometimes I use it to my advantage in my design work. It's easy to discount others opinions when you think what you've done is superior. But this post isn't about me...
I used to own a 2006 Lexus GS 300. One of the best features of this car (in my opinion) was the location of the parking brake pedal, located above where the left foot rests.
I liked the position of the parking brake because of my bent toward efficiency. I was able to park the car in an efficient manner:
- Left hand: on steering wheel
- Right foot: on brake
- Left foot: set parking brake
- Right hand: turn off car
This is in different than other cars where you might need your right hand to pull an emergency brake in the center console. (Using your right hand for two actions takes twice as long to get out of the car.) In my Lexus, all four limbs could be doing something at the same time. This sped up the process for exiting the vehicle.
Then my car got totaled.
This may surprise you, but one of the biggest criteria for my future car was a parking brake system that was as efficient as my GS 300.
I wasn't able to find anything that matched up.
In fact, it wasn't until I found the new Lexus GS 350 that I was blown away.
The 2013+ Lexus GS comes equipped with an automatic parking brake. When Auto mode is enabled, the parking brake is automatically engaged every time the car is in park.
I never would have thought of such a feature. If I were dreaming up the world's greatest Lexus, I would have asked them to leave the parking brake foot pedal in the same spot. However, they went ahead and eliminated the need to even think about my parking brake at all.
This kind of innovation is what creators - both designers and otherwise - should be thinking about. Too often are we asking others for their opinions on our designs or creations. We need to make sure we're stepping back and thinking about what our users actually need, and not what they're asking for.