Charge Cars: Introducing Sahba Fanaian, Head of Experience and Design (HMI)

Charge Cars
4 min readApr 20, 2021

Sahba Fanaian, our Lead UX/UI designer, joined the team at the end of March 2020, right before the national lockdown swept across the UK. At Charge Cars, she focuses on creating a seamless and thoughtful in-vehicle digital experience. Before joining Charge Cars, Sahba lived in China, working for NIO, a Chinese electric vehicle start-up. Sahba worked on several NIO projects such as: ES8, ET7 concept car and the ES6.

Sahba Fanaian our lead UX/UI designer

Design Thinking and China

“China is so far ahead in terms of digital media and social products, compared to their international counterparts. Their systems are more integrated, software more intertwined with daily life. The speed with which China creates products, conducts user-testing with no roadblocks, you can see things developing a lot faster.Working in China had its complex and challenging times, but it was a lot of fun.”

UX and UI at Charge Cars

At Charge Cars, Sahba is an integral member of the design team. She designs the digital dashboard, the Human Machine Interface (HMI) screens ensuring an intuitive, seamless experience for our customers. Part of her work includes facilitating and working through the process of human factors evaluation, from determining reachability of the screen, to creating aesthetic interactive layouts These processes help inform the designer of which elements need to be positioned on the screen. Endless rounds of user testing is done to determine how colours, font size, and icons play into the driving experience. Multiple factors are constantly being evaluated throughout the planning and design process.

Sahba in the Charge Cars London HQ

In talking about the Automotive User experience, Sahba explains,

“As a product designer, I’ve always wanted to focus on something uniquely tailored to one environment. I’m fascinated in finding a niche audience I can cater to. You have your own user base you can study and analyse their behaviours. The main focus is driving — everything else becomes secondary to the driving experience. I enjoy working on that focus point, and making sure that secondary functions are “icing on the cake” to the overall driving experience.

UX design plays a bigger role than most people realise in the auto industry. There is no room for user confusion. Unlike smartphones and tablets, where a user can afford spending time searching for functions or actions, Automotive UX needs to cater to the user’s intuition and provide for their needs ahead of them. The best HMI has to be so simple and intuitive that if it takes the user more than a few seconds to get to where they need to get to, then something is wrong with the design. That “something” is what we look back at, go through a few more rounds of user testing and figure out how to better streamline and optimize the user experience.

Charge Cars dashboard on our LAB car

Turning challenges into opportunities

Founded in 2017, Charge Cars is still in its startup stage. Every milestone test is conducted in the office, as well as building the Electric Mustang. Electrical and mechanical engineers work hand-in-hand alongside the design team, ensuring the build is progressing to schedule.

“One of the struggles of working in any start-up is the highly agile environment. Within the challenges there is a very unique opportunity for growth, where you have the ability to hone in a different set of skills you never had the opportunity of developing before.
The team is filled with highly skilled members and everyone is developing cool and innovative products. You need to have the right mindset in order to thrive. Being flexible and solving problems on your feet is a great skill to have in this environment.

The Centre Console Screen

One of the most exciting things as a product designer is having the opportunity to explore the user experience inside the Electric Mustang. I get to be hands on with this gorgeous car — from breaking down complex data into a beautiful visual experience to filtering information that translates into the final product. It’s very exciting, I love every step of the process.”

Charge Cars is always on the lookout for the best and brightest. If you are interested in joining Sahba’s team as a UX/UI designer, apply at hello[at]charge[dot]cars.