New controls for Škoda cars: a single system, but customisable


New controls for Škoda cars: a single system, but customisable

Škoda is gradually rolling out a new user interface for its cars’ onboard systems. This is not just easier to use, it also brings a lot more personalisation options.

The new design for controlling the car’s on-board system, i.e. functions on the touchscreen infotainment system and the Virtual Cockpit, is intended for selected Škoda cars across various categories and platforms. Called Flow HMI, the environment will be uniform, although its functions and some specific details, including controls, may vary from model to model.

“We have tried to make optimal use of digital technology and physical controls,” explains designer Daniel Hájek, who was in charge of the user interface revamp. “That’s why it includes the Smart Dials rotary controllers introduced in the new Superb and Kodiaq models, for example. It is these cars, along with the 2024 Enyaq, that are pioneering the new HMI. The new onboard system will be gradually introduced in other Škoda cars, including electric vehicles.

“Adapting the system to the different types of cars and their specific equipment was one of our main concerns during the design process,” says Pavel Tůma, who led the technical side of development. But the most important consideration of all is ensuring that the users understand it. “This is one of the first projects that was based on the work of UX designers and user research. User testing was something devoted a lot of time and attention to,” Tůma confirms.

Pavel Tůma
head of UX/UI development

Everything in easy reach

The user testing threw up several important conclusions: one was that drivers want to have certain important functions in easy reach. This is ensured not only by buttons and other physical controls, but also by a new touchscreen layout. The touchscreen now has an always-there bottom bar with the most useful shortcuts, and a top bar grouping together the car’s functions.

The second key finding was that every user has a slightly different idea of what the most important functions are. That’s why Škoda makes it possible to customise certain elements of the uniform. “The user can easily define the items in the bottom bar and in the left side of the top bar,” Tůma says. The bottom bar contains access to the usual categories of functions such as media, navigation, phone control or climate control, while the top one contains access to current events and some specific details (such as control of assistance systems). “We prioritised the functions that are most important for customers, while also giving them the option to change the setup.”

Each to his own

“We also put a lot of work into the graphic concept of the system. As a result, the user can easily adjust the appearance of the main display, modify the background and colours, and choose whether the dashboard graphics will respect these choices or whether they will remain independent and keep the default dark shades,”says Daniel Hájek. Another important detail is that users are familiar with the colours, icons and other basics of the graphic concept of the environment – they know them from the MyŠkoda mobile app and the Škoda website, for instance. This is why the Czech carmaker rolled out its Škoda Flow unified design system a few years ago: to make sure users always know where they are. Overall, the designers used flatter 2D graphics with new welcome animations, an animated rendering of the assistant Laura and a new map look – all in the spirit of the brand’s new corporate identity.

Daniel Hájek
HMI designer