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Bicing

Improving the mobile app experience.

CONTEXT

Bicing is the bicycle sharing system that allows citizens get around Barcelona. Users can rent a bike at a street service station by unlocking it from a support frame. The mobile app allows users to check availability, mark stations as favorites and present a gamification concept that rewards the use of the system. However, many users aren’t happy with the app.

I’m never sure if there will be bikes when I arrive so I just check without the app.

What I came across when talking about the app with users was that they don’t find any added value in it. Most of them find it old-fashioned and what it’s worst, not very useful.

USERS

The target users are the millennials living in the center of Barcelona. They use Bicing as their main transport so they either don’t have enough money for their own, they find the “leave it anywhere” concept a plus or they’re newcomers to the city. This is important as they may not know the city. They are digitally native and expect the app not only to work fine but also to ensure all functionalities they already have in other products.

PROBLEMS DETECTED

  • Lack of information.
  • Route mode doesn’t work properly.
  • Incident report.
  • General App Navigation.

INFORMATION

By talking to its users I found the most frustrating part of using Bicing was when there’s no availability in stations. From an app perspective what we can improve is the quality of information provided. Apart from properly refreshing its availability, inform users of operators’ work, stations’ history and status. At the moment, there is a lot of information on the website and in the social media channels, but it doesn’t connect with the mobile app.

«News», «Warnings» and «Do you know that…» sections have been added to the app.

Warnings become more important now with push up notifications that might concern users depending on their preferences. In the example above: Notify me when my favorites stations are unavailable.

Above, new detail view of a station. A frequency peak hours graph informs users of regular availability in advance. They also might want to know when the next operator is coming to charge the station.

PLAN YOUR ROUTE

Another pain point detected is the planning of routes. Users usually abandon the app in order to find a destination place or check bikeways, even if the routes do get displayed in the current App. This proposal follows the principles of accessibility and usability of material design as the focus of this proposal is Android platforms.

City bikeways information should be displayed on the map if the user has specified it, as this information could be as relevant as the bike stations.

New map and filter display. The general interface has been cleaned in order to give more importance to the map and the search bar. The parking/bike filter and the geolocation functionality have been placed in the most accessible area for the thumb, as they are the most frequent actions performed.

New route planning flow. In the prototype above, the user finds a destination and select a planned route to get there. This route already suggests him the best stations for picking and leaving the bike. Before arriving at their destination, he’s notified that the Bicing station where he planned to leave the bike ran out of available places, so he can either reconsider his way or finish the route mode. This functionality could even lead to book parking places in future.

INCIDENT TRACKING

When doing a guerrilla research I found that many users get annoyed in the process of reporting problems.  Not only is bad enough because the system asks you to wait 10 minutes after reporting a problem, but also because you have to call them and give them concrete numbers and explanations. What I detected quickly is that in all those scenarios 90% of the cases were repetitive and split into stages. That gave me the idea of adding an alternative form of reporting incidents. This could be used when a calling center is overwhelmed or users just don’t feel like calling. (They will need to be identified by logging-in previously).

New report incident flow. Call the central system or submit a quick form via app.

NAVIGATION

In order to accommodate all these scenarios, as well as improving general navigation, all application infrastructure has been reorganized in a new side menu as the Google Material apps ones.

In actual navigation, a lot of experiences are hidden along the way. I propose an experience where you can see all features in the menu. This not only improving the experience but resolving the problem of users not being logging-in. User research makes me realized almost all of them are downloading the app only for checking availability, so they don’t actually logged-in.

As you can see, in the first menu we have all the general screens that don’t require personal user login. In the second menu, the functionalities users can benefit from if they do log-in.

BENEFITS

  • More informed users with a nicer and more reliable app.
  • Fewer users checking the screen for availability, fewer accidents.
  • Encourage users to define favorites and destination stations.
  • Better and faster incident tracking.
  • Promote users to log-in.
  • General navigation improvement.

WORK, PROCESS AND TOOLS

As a regular Bicing user it was easy for me to approach users in stations and ask them for feedback. This guerrilla user research gave me all the information I needed to start.

Then I started wireframing on paper all screens the actual app has. I removed all the navigation flows I found problematic and I listed the features that will improve the experience. I prepared a Sketch Library with Material design components and Bicing branding. Only then did I translate the actual UI into a new material design style.

Since I needed to check the outcome of the user experience, I moved the screens to Principle App to check flows and animations.

For more information about the project or any kind of feedback please feel free to contact me via email or social networks.

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