Getting in, out, and around in urban areas these days can be difficult and expensive. Traffic congestion and a dearth of parking are among the many reasons more and more young urban-dwellers are choosing to forego owning a car, and many American cities have transit systems that range from mediocre to nonexistent. Taxis and other paid/crowdsourced transportation services are certainly useful, but costs can add up for regular users. On-demand ride-sharing could potentially fill that gap.
Challenge: Getting a free ride on-demand, ala old-school hitchhiking: can it be done digitally, on the go, and done easily and safely via an app?
Team: Just me.
My Role: UX Designer, interviewing,
proto-persona development, task analysis, scenario/storyboards, lo-fi sketched wires, prototyping, preliminary logo design and conceptual ideation.
The assignment was to interview a preselected fellow classmate about what their typical day consisted of, and ideas on what would make their life better. I created a short interview script and together we determined that this particular idea was worth pursuing as a concept to build around.
During the interview, my subject lamented the high cost of urban transportation, and expressed the wish for a way to do “digital hitchhiking”—that is, to be able to “thumb a ride” virtually through his smartphone. I found this to be an interesting idea; after all, there are many reasons drivers might have for offering someone a free ride: carpool lane access, conversation, good karma, kindness, companionship, etc. I was curious if this could work (for SOME people) as an alternative to services like Uber and Lyft.
I needed to envision an app with the desired functionality, how it might work, and how to design it to be most useful for potential users. In order to do this, I created a proto-persona, based solely on my classmate, along with a typical user scenario and storyboards.
I built a task analysis showing how the user would address their problem (needing a ride) both with and without the hypothetical app. I then did some rough sketches and built a sample lo-fi clickable InVision prototype. The wireframe at right links to the actual prototype.
I believe my work shows that this app could be developed and made quite usable; further exploration via high-fidelity prototyping and user testing would clarify the likelihood of a successful product from a rider perspective. More research is needed to determine the viability of the app based on how likely drivers would be to use it, as this is the piece of the puzzle that I was not able to explore, as the project was a brief exercise with very limited time constraints.
Would drivers be interested in this app? Would a sufficient number of them offer rides, enough to satisfy the demand from the rider side? This information is a critical determining factor in the potential success of the product, and would be an important element to research before going further with development.