JUST LET ME DRIVE

Improving the user experience design in Forza Motorsport 7

Forza Motorsport 7's design is pretty good: it's clean, it has a consistent visual language and it is easy to navigate with both a cursor and a controller. The core gameplay is also great - it's a top notch car racing sim.

That is, if you are able to get through the layers upon layers of inexplicably bad User Experience Design.

I'll now dive into some of the more annoying aspects Forza Motorsport 7's UX, and provide my solutions.

Problem #1: Inconsistency in the mental model

When a user is navigating a new graphical user interface for the very first time, he or she will heavily rely on his or her mental model to do so. When creating a usable interface for the user that is just supposed to work, it is important to take this into account, rather than creating new rules for the user to learn.

Forza Motorsport 7's menu navigation follows a classic mental model of the a and b button of a game controller: press the a button to select something, and the b button to go back. As you can see in the bottom right hand corner, so far, so good:

However, when making changes to the game's settings in the options menu, a problem appears: a saves your settings and takes you back, while b will cancel your changes and take you back.

I can't count how many times I have made changes to the game settings, and pressing b wanting to go back, have canceled all my recently made settings.

Solution: Remove the a button choice altogether, and have the b button say Accept and Go Back. Now, there is no chance of deleting all your previously selected options.

Problem #2: Bad Information Architecture

Information architecture is all about organization of information in a clear and logical way. Such organization follows a clear purpose — helping users navigate complex sets of information.

Forza 7's pre-race screen is an example of bad content architecture.

When I am getting ready for a race in Forza, I personally do four things fairly frequently:
  • Start the race
  • Change the car
  • Go to the mods page
  • Check the starting grid.
On the default screen, which is inexplicably named "Race Info" (seen in the left half of the below screenshot) you can
  • Start the race
  • Go to "Car collection" - which is not your selection of cars, but rather where you can aquire cars (we'll revisit that one later)
  • Go to the mods page
  • Go to the shop section of... the mods page
If I want to change my car or check the starting grid, I need to go the center menu tab, which says "Setup":
Solution: Group the most important options at the default pre-race screen, and shuffle everything else to "Settings":

Problem #3: The most basic actions are convoluted

There is a certain core loop to Forza races in the Single Player mode:
  • Start the Race
  • Mess it all up
  • Restart Race
Restarting your race is anything but simple in Forza 7. The interface forces you to select the lower-most button in the pause menu, exit the race, go back to the pre-race menu, and press "start race", which keeps you waiting in two loading screens.

The horror.
This is drastically simplified with the following solution.
Add a "Restart Race" button to the pause menu:

Problem #4: Car selection is a hot mess.

It's hard to know where to start with this one.