Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

Why doesn't Mod3 user interface make reading alerts easier?

My peripheral vision isn't as good as it was years ago. Maybe it was never great. I know I'm not alone in this. I wear my computer glasses down on my nose, and that works just fine. But much as I LOVE my Model 3 I find the alerts unfathomably poorly done, and I can't help questioning the UI's safety and ergonomics. I see that adjusting overall font size has been discussed here. But that's not the issue. I want to live.

With all the malleable GUI screen real estate, why on earth have they made critical alerts pop up in tiny little boxes in limited locations, using little fonts that needlessly call you to take your eyes off the road, and the critical business of survival?

Good Heavens, this isn't a desktop computer you're leisurely reading straight-on! You're strapped in 2 tons of metal hurtling down a narrow asphalt strip at 2 kilometers per second, and you should be watching the environment, every millisecond, not looking over to decipher small text on an iPad! The DMV tells us never to be reading text messages. Yet I'm having to read warnings and lane change requests in 10 point fonts nearly 45 degrees off from center field. Why?

I'm fine with the single screen UI, the speedometer, etc. But as a coder and designer I know there's nothing preventing alerts from being much more safely legible. I can't believe nobody in the design group has insisted on this.

Alerts can e.g. display initially in a large (colorful?) box that you won't miss, in fonts that you can read out of the corner of your eyes, and then shrink and/or move out of the way. And there's nothing preventing options to optimize such behavior for different peoples' vision ... and sense of aesthetics. Am I alone in expecting this to be done smarter?
 
Last edited:

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Moderator
Nov 28, 2018
14,322
18,156
Riverside Co. CA
My peripheral vision isn't as good as it was years ago. Maybe it was never great. I know I'm not alone in this. I wear my computer glasses down on my nose, and that works just fine. But much as I LOVE my Model 3 I find the alerts unfathomably poorly done, and I can't help questioning the UI's safety and ergonomics. I see that adjusting overall font size has been discussed here. But that's not the issue. I want to live.

With all the malleable GUI screen real estate, why on earth have they made critical alerts pop up in tiny little boxes in limited locations, using little fonts that needlessly call you to take your eyes off the road, and the critical business of survival?

Good Heavens, this isn't a desktop computer you're leisurely reading straight-on! You're strapped in 2 tons of metal hurtling down a narrow asphalt strip at 2 kilometers per second, and you should be watching the environment, every millisecond, not looking over to decipher small text on an iPad! The DMV tells us never to be reading text messages. Yet I'm having to read warnings and lane change requests in 10 point fonts nearly 45 degrees off from center field. Why?

I'm fine with the single screen UI, the speedometer, etc. But as a coder and designer I know there's nothing preventing alerts from being much more safely legible. I can't believe nobody in the design group has insisted on this.

Alerts can e.g. display initially in a large (colorful?) box that you won't miss, in fonts that you can read out of the corner of your eyes, and then shrink and/or move out of the way. And there's nothing preventing options to optimize such behavior for different peoples' vision ... and sense of aesthetics. Am I alone in expecting this to be done smarter?

If the UI popped up a large colorful box, it would ENCOURAGE people to take their eyes off the road like "look at MEEEE". I am not a coder or a designer like you mention you are, but that would be the first problem I would see with that.

Sort of like the electronic message boards on the overpasses caltrans uses, which ALWAYS slow down traffic as people slow down to read messages like "dui is not only booze".
 
It dings, right? Seems like an attention grabber to me.

The issue isn't "attention grab". And we get used to however it works, it's not distracting.

But everyone's peripheral vision is weaker than their central field. We can read that way, if fonts are big enough. If yours isn't perfect, you can only make out the actual contents of the small messages by turning your head and refocusing, or at least taking your eyes off the road.

The software can remedy that if we can make out the alert text using more of our peripheral vision. Spoken or specific sonic cues, and bigger glyphs, can be good too. The current little messages are not.

BTW, people with Macular Degeneration, a disease that destroys the central field vision, show peripheral vision at work. They manage to read big fonts that way, in the early stages anyway. No, I'm not suggesting blind people should drive.
 
Last edited:
  • Informative
Reactions: APotatoGod
I hope Tesla engineers look at this thread because the warning messages on the screen are much too small to be read by people with poor vision such as myself who have to wear long-sight spectacles. This would be such an easy change to make. Why hasn't it been done already. The problem, I suspect, is that the young whizz kids who design the software have no idea that many Tesla customers have less than 20/20 vision.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SVMike and Watts_Up
I haven't received my Model 3 yet and the font size was the only reason why we almost didn't order it. We decided that this is so obvious so we are hopeful that it will come soon on a software update. Do you think Tesla reads this? Should we tweet Elon instead? I am happy to help make noise so there is a "big font mode" soon.
 
I haven't received my Model 3 yet and the font size was the only reason why we almost didn't order it. We decided that this is so obvious so we are hopeful that it will come soon on a software update. Do you think Tesla reads this? Should we tweet Elon instead? I am happy to help make noise so there is a "big font mode" soon.

It wouldn't hurt to tweet Musk.

I agree with you about font size. It surprises me that we don't see as many "complaints" about that on this forum or anywhere. Perhaps we are in the minority.

One company that has done really well in understanding the challenges of car user interface is Apple. Usability of their CarPlay has improved tremendously in the past 2-3 years. They do a great job in reducing screen clutter, improving ease of interaction, picking the right font size, button size, etc. It will be great if Tesla picks up some visual cues from CarPlay. A good study would be to see how Apple has improved maps and driving directions with CarPlay. The current Apple Maps in CarPlay offers an extremely well designed visual and aural interface.
 
It wouldn't hurt to tweet Musk.

I agree with you about font size. It surprises me that we don't see as many "complaints" about that on this forum or anywhere. Perhaps we are in the minority.

One company that has done really well in understanding the challenges of car user interface is Apple. Usability of their CarPlay has improved tremendously in the past 2-3 years. They do a great job in reducing screen clutter, improving ease of interaction, picking the right font size, button size, etc. It will be great if Tesla picks up some visual cues from CarPlay. A good study would be to see how Apple has improved maps and driving directions with CarPlay. The current Apple Maps in CarPlay offers an extremely well designed visual and aural interface.

I feel like I need to add that Android Auto is very good at this as well. You see, my husband works for Google, Android Auto to be exact so I would be in big trouble if I don't make that very clear ;)
 

Phlier

Bluebird
Jun 12, 2019
2,236
4,230
Utah
OP, I completely agree.

On each occasion of warnings being issued, I have had to ask the front seat passenger what the messages said, as they would have required way too much time during time critical events to read.

The few times I’ve gotten warnings when I was solo, I just had to think “wonder what THAT said,” and keep driving.
 
  • Like
Reactions: roc-noc
I've mentioned this somewhere else at least once. My favorite example of the silliness of the small font size is an error that I've seen (barely) that happens when driving in heavy slow freeway traffic when using AutoPilot and trying to lane change from the carpool lane to exit. The car starts to change lanes and aborts. Some tiny error message appears...too dangerous to read it. Then I take manual control because I know I need to make eye contact with someone to let me over. Another error appears saying something about cruise control won't brake.
But, of course, the first couple of times this happened all the time I had to read it all I got was something about the car not braking...and the message timed out and went away

OK, I get that the designer has 20/20 vision and probably just graduated 2 years ago. But who would design something like this?
How about a back arrow button for previous messages? Or an up arrow to increase the font?
 
  • Like
Reactions: roc-noc and Fernand
OP, I completely agree.

On each occasion of warnings being issued, I have had to ask the front seat passenger what the messages said, as they would have required way too much time during time critical events to read.

Right, and when I've asked my passenger they always say "Huh? too small, went away, couldn't read it".

One assumption is that the actual content of a message is suggested by the shape, so once you've seen it, you can say "oh, yeah, I know that arrangement, that's the whatever message". That's true to some degree when everything is perfect. But if anything isn't working as expected, and I NEED to understand what's happening, I've NEVER been able to read and interpret the alerts without taking eyes and attention off the road. Why this isn't improved is baffling.
.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: SVMike
Although I’m lucky enough to have good vision (for now, anyway), I can see how a “large font mode” could be useful for others. However, in my experience the alerts you are discussing are always minor, routine things, just reminding you of the car’s behavior (such as “cruise control will not brake while your foot is on the gas”, or “you’re in a construction zone, autopilot might not work as well as usual”), or other minor alerts (like “hey, someone’s not bucked in”, or “the tire pressure is low, might want to check that”, or “your flash drive is too slow for dashcam, might want to upgrade it.”)

When there’s an actually important, urgent alert, such as the “take control immediately!” message when autopilot is confused, the car WILL make sure you know it.

So while I’d agree overall, there should be adjustable font sizes, you shouldn’t worry much about the small alerts you miss, they aren’t really any more urgent than an ICE car’s “Oil maintenance required” messages.
 
Last edited:
Although I’m lucky enough to have good vision (for now, anyway), I can see how a “large font mode” could be useful for others. However, in my experience the alerts you are discussing are always minor, routine things, just reminding you of the car’s behavior (such as “cruise control will not brake while your foot is on the gas”, or “you’re in a construction zone, autopilot might not work as well as usual”), or other minor alerts (like “hey, someone’s not bucked in”, or “the tire pressure is low, might want to check that”, or “your flash drive is too slow for dashcam, might want to upgrade it.”)

When there’s an actually important, urgent alert, such as the “take control immediately!” message when autopilot is confused, the car WILL make sure you know it.

So while I’d agree overall, there should be adjustable font sizes, you shouldn’t worry much about the small alerts you miss, they aren’t really any more urgent than an ICE car’s “Oil maintenance required” messages.
Well, thanks for that. That is actually very reassuring. Still, there should be a "bigger font" mode and you can opt for it or not. That would make everyone happy and it would be so easy for Tesla to do. I love the idea of the color coding messages. If the "construction zone" message always came in orange, for example, after a few times you wouldn't need to read it at all because you would immediately know that an orange message popped up and that means that autopilot won't be as effective because I am going through a construction zone.
That would be brilliant. That, and bigger fonts :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: APotatoGod
Nicki, my Model 3, is ill. Downright mental. S/he is in for service. Sensor problem. So I got a model S loaner, an OP car, big Old Peoples' car. Cushy. But one thing I noticed is that the dual screen layout places information in more easily viewed locations. Don't ask me for details, I just drove that car for the first time today. But the Model 3 single screen contains the merge of the two Model S areas. On the S, glancing either frontal or to the right, but more down, seems not to pull attention from the road as much as on the Model 3, with the single screen being over to the right. Maybe it's more natural to glance down without turning your head than over. It's possible that when they coded the Model 3 display, they re-used a lot of the layout ideas that worked OK on the S. But on the Model 3 you don't have the "speedometer area", and it's harder to see.

I don't buy the alerts being "routine things" and not relevant and therefore they don't need to be legible. If you don't know what they're saying, they could be copyright notices and they will still pull your eyes off the road. If they're indeed very basic, then they should be colorful intuitive glyphs, like the big red steering wheel, and not full sentence messages in tiny text. I'm kind of used to managing, not reading them, but it's surprisingly un-ergonomic for such a smartly designed car.
.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: APotatoGod
I agree with the OP

I sometimes get a major alert with lots of sounds and a small box of text when I take a curve on a frontage road, keeping well within my lane and there is a car coming on the opposite side and also within his lane. I am not sure that the car is warning of imminent collision because of the curve in the road but I cannot decipher the small font text in time. This has occurred twice.

I wish that box of text would be in a bigger font for 5 seconds or so for me to read it quickly before it becomes a small box and fades away.

Also, is there some storage where I can scroll through all my previous alert messages while parked. Something like browser history for the past 30 days?
 

srs5694

Active Member
Jan 15, 2019
1,291
1,631
Woonsocket, RI
I also agree with the OP. Add to that something that's been mentioned in passing: The alerts disappear too soon. Frequently, an alert appears at a moment when I must be attending to the road, so I can't afford to look down until a few seconds later; but by then it's disappeared completely. Of course, when that happens, the alert is generally related to why I must look at the road (I assume), like a car braking hard in front of me; but it'd still be useful to have the alerts stay up for a bit longer so that they can be read if that's not the case. This was more of an issue for me in the first month or two of ownership, since it wasn't always obvious why the car was squawking at me. Often it was features I'd never before had in a car, like lane departure avoidance warnings. It helps to know why the alert happened, even well past whatever event triggered it is an issue, to help a driver learn the car's capabilities.

Another option that might help with this would be voice warnings. Instead of (or in addition to) a warning message in a tiny font on the screen, the car could play an identical audio message, or maybe a tweaked version to put the critical information early in the message -- something like "lane departure" or "crash imminent." For quickest identification by the driver, each message could be preceded by a short and unique tone. That way, once you've learned the association, you'd know the moment the tone sounded what the alert was about.
 

KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
4,230
3,935
Maine
I wish the Tesla software engineers would read the HIG, Human Interface Guidelines, because that's the first thing I noticed when getting my Model 3, that the text and touch points were not really ideal for legibility, etc. I mean the thin line for acceleration and regen? The little dots to indicate limited regen? Just not really intuitive and clear. Everything shouldn't be an Easter Egghunt!
 
  • Like
Reactions: roc-noc
Also, is there some storage where I can scroll through all my previous alert messages while parked. Something like browser history for the past 30 days?

I agree with keeping a history of messages. At least for the last trip the car was on.

We aren't back in caveman days when each possible error or warning had its own lighted icon (idiot light) on the dashboard...such as "check engine."
And it was lit when the condition was bad and turned back off when it no longer applied.

We now have a car that has dozens or even hundreds of possible errors/warnings.
It would be useful to have larger fonts and a history of previous warnings with date/time tags
Just put a little ion to the left of the car image with a numerical badge for the count of messages when >1.
Tap this and you can scroll through the list and hit "clear" to erase.
Tap the individual message to get an explanation or link to the user manual.
A settings gear icon allows you to configure what shows up and how long to keep old messages before auto deleting.

This feature would be much more useful than another video game.
 
I wish the Tesla software engineers would read the HIG, Human Interface Guidelines, because that's the first thing I noticed when getting my Model 3, that the text and touch points were not really ideal for legibility, etc.

Oh Yes, the small touchpoints! Forgot about THOSE. And that tiny Windows XP style "X" for closing an overlaid window so you can e.g. bloody SEE your map again, that's an opportunity for a retro nostalgia bonus game. Every time you close one of these windows on the first try, without colliding or driving off the road, you'd get some points towards a free tow truck call.

All joking aside, this isn't trolling about trivial stuff. It doesn't belong on the most technically advanced car on the planet. Get these kids some rigorous HIG training if they can't intuit it.
.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SVMike and KenC

Products we're discussing on TMC...

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top