research / design
Illustrator / Mobbin
duration: 2.5 weeks
If you live in a big/medium sized city, these days you cannot help but notice bikes are over the place. Bike Share companies are ubiquitous. Offering everything from scooters, electric bikes, manual bikes and everything in between, they aim to free us from our cars, get us some exercise, and lower our carbon footprint. Sounds like a great idea, right? Great idea, yes. But in the case of bike sharing, it’s all in the execution.
The vast majority of the criticism lies in the bikes themselves. Everything from the quality and maintenance level of the bikes offered, the availability of the bikes, to the sad fact that we, as a species, cannot figure out how, and where to leave them when we are done with them. Consider China, who’s market was flooded with bike sharing companies, and who now, quite literally, has a HUGE pile of a problem to deal with….
Sitting down to Google reviews on dockless bike shares results in a long list of critical articles and reviews. Overall, the complaints fell into four distinct categories:
Bikes piling up/blocking access
Thieves and vandals
Bikes not well maintained
Bike availability lacking
Delving a bit deeper into the apps themselves yielded complaints about the following:
Have to go through too many screens before you can ride
Need for permissions not well described
Not using native mobile functionality
Get rider to ride faster – allow access to other options within app if needed
User flows not based on user needs
And finally, looking at user comments on Yelp in San Francisco for the dockless bike sharing company Jump, yielded complaints in 3 categories: Bikes, Support, and the App. Out of 20 comments, the most references were to the bikes themselves (16 out of 20), next was Support (8 out of 20), and last was the App itself (3 out of 20). For the App, the following complaints were lodged:
App not recognizing ride is over/no way to shut down ride on app
No bike tracking on app
Can’t find the bike/bike not there
Some users had suggestions too:
Use stats to track carbon emissions avoided
Personal totals listed and accumulated after ride ends
Connect to personal fitness apps
Since limitations lie in addressing all issues, this case study is focused on the design of the App, its information architecture, and typical user flows. By looking at user comments on Yelp, and by referencing Dockless Bike review articles, we can find the most ubiquitous problems, and solutions.
Users on Yelp had the most trouble with ending their rides, and having both the app, and the bike recognize this fact.
Most of the dockless bike sharing apps had the user go through far too many screens before they could ride the bike.
Most of the apps did not take advantage of native mobile capabilities
The user’s journey through the app is not based on user needs
I found the article on dockless bike apps from Luke W. (https://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1995) particularly helpful. He reviewed 6 dockless bike apps, and took screenshots of his process through each of the apps while trying to perform the task of using the bikes. He chose to review Bird, Hello Bike, Jump bike, Lime bike, Ofo, and Spin. From these screenshots, I created user flows for each app using design patterns of Lime Bike listed on Mobbin.
Please click on the picture below to see all of them listed:
Next, I developed 3 personas of tourists visiting San Francisco, CA. These were used as the basis for my designs, and to make sure their user needs were being met.
Tourist in downtown: Joe Schmoe
Joe Schmoe is visiting with his family from the Midwest. It is his wife, himself, and their two teenage children. They’ve flown in the night before, and are staying in a downtown hotel. They had just finished breakfast the next morning, and are looking to figure out where to go first. They are walking along the street, and see a fleet of Ride bikes…..
Tourist along waterfront (pier/fisherman’s wharf, etc.): Lucy Goosey
Lucy Goosey and her fiancé are visiting from Europe. It’s their first time in San Francisco and are eager to get out and start exploring. They have been wandering around, and are a bit tired of walking, but still want to see more sights. While looking at a map to judge the distances of different tourist attractions to where they are, they notice a fleet of Ride bikes a block away…
Tourist in parks: Dan the Man
Dan is visiting from Asia. He is a young tech worker who had business in Silicon Valley. He had a couple days free to tack some travel onto his visit, so he took advantage. He has been to the bay area before, but never had much time to get up to the city. He takes Caltrain up from the peninsula, and wants to go explore Golden Gate Park and the museums, but doesn’t want to drive or take a cab. He decides on Zap Bikes, but it is his first time using a bike sharing service, so he’s a bit nervours, but excited. He steps off Caltrain, and sees a Ride bike sitting there….
The following are screens for the high-fidelity mock-up of the Ride dockless bike share app. I made sure to reference San Francisco as the city, and to reference one of my personas, Joe Schmoe in the mock-up. Also, even though the design spec only asked for map/bike selection and payment screens, I wanted to include the end of ride process since that was a major complaint from the users on Yelp. The current bike shares in San Francisco had many complaints about the app not recognizing that the rider was done with the ride and being charged. I implemented a way the user, and the app, know the ride is over by having the user snap a picture of where they left their bike, having the app confirm it is secure and locked, and having the app issue a confirmation screen for proof.
I really enjoyed working on this project. During the research phase, I got into looking at all the pluses and minuses of bike shares, and how cities have gone about implementing them. Sometimes to the benefit of city residents, but more often not, to the detriment. From reading a ton of articles about it, it seems as if cities really need designated parking areas for the bikes. However, putting the infrastructure in place to make this happen would take a lot of agreement from a lot of folks, so I’m not sure it’s viable on a large scale yet.
In terms of the app itself, it was interesting to look through all the different apps out there currently, and see what I could add to make the user’s experience a better one. I am proud of the end of ride user flow. Having the confirmation from the app that a user’s ride is over will reduce the errors of users not locking their bikes properly, and users not realizing their ride was still ongoing. Also, by having users take a picture of where they left their bike will hopefully cut down on users parking them improperly or illegally. Adding this feature makes the user accountable for their actions, and how they leave their bike. And once the anonymity is taken out of the parking experience, and users are liable, hopefully they will treat the bikes, and their fellow human, better.