Time: September 2016
Role: UX/UI designer
Tools: Sketch/Axure RP/InVision//Illustrator
Teamed with three other designers, I had the opportunity to work on a project that imagined client Uber expanding to a carsharing service. The mobile application, called Uber Car Share, gave me a chance to sharpen my UX and UI skills.
Understanding the market and users
The current market
We started our design process by familiarizing ourselves with the carsharing industry. During our research, we identified three areas of focus to gain sufficient understanding of the carsharing field:
- Competitors: We found two major types of models, peer-to-peer (P2P) and business-to-consumer (B2C). We studied current B2C competitors such as Zipcar and Car2Go; and current P2P competitors such as Turo and Getaround.
- Demographic groups: Our research shows that today’s typical users live in urban neighborhoods. Carsharing services offer a niche option for these users that need more mobility choices.
- Technology. Carsharing technologies have evolved from original manual systems to complex computer/smartphone-based systems.
Domain research gave us a solid foundation regarding the market. In addition, we completed a survey, where we learned that our targeted users were between 20-45 years old and most of them did not have a car. We also interviewed 10 potential users in this age range, some of which included an attorney, an IT technician, a student, a business counselor, and a civil service worker. Each interview lasted about 15 minutes. During the interview, we paid close attention to behaviors, goals, and frustrations which would be our main focus when we began sketching the main features of the product.
Defining the problem
After finishing the interview process, we went through all of our notes, marking and highlighting trends and patterns in the data. We discovered that our users used car sharing mostly for errands and short trips.
- Millennials were not the main target audience. During the domain research, we discovered that the rate of car ownership of millennials had dropped in the past few years. We assumed they would be our potential users, but it turned out that due to car sharing regulations and high insurance rates, millennials were more likely to use ridesharing, public transportation, and even biking rather than carsharing.
- Cost was the main concern. People were primarily concerned with costs, convenience of pickup location, and availability of cars.
- Car sharing usage frequency was low. People were not motivated to integrate car sharing into their transportation habits because of factors such as cost and parking issues.
- Main target audience. Our targeted users were between 20-45 years old and most of them did not have a car.
Synthesizing all the information and research enabled us to narrow the problem that will be solved in design:
The mobile app should put users in greater control of car sharing scheduling and costs, so that users will feel more comfortable, authority and confidence, therefore incorporating this service more regularly into their travel routine. To achieve this goal, the primary solution is to set up a reward system to encourage users to incorporate car sharing into their daily lives.
From there, design principles were established that aligned with the primary solution, the user’s needs and the business goals.
Rewarding— The app must motivate customer with free points that can be applied to their immediate and future trips.
Empowering—The app must empower users to make a time sensitive decision, such as making car rental extensions.
Transparent—The app must show all costs upfront, with no hidden fees.
Mobile friendly—The app should enable users to easily access information on the go.
Based on investigation of the business, competitors and prospective users’ lives, emotional needs and motivations, we finalized a brand persona. Not only did it create a bridge between the research and the final product, it helped guide the design and future brand and business decisions. Meet Chelsea:
In order to link all of our research and design the final product, we created a persona-based scenario and a journey map. The imaginary scenario tested how Chelsea would respond to a possible real life situation and explored how she would interact with the reward system.
Chelsea needed to use Uber Car Share to book a car and to pick up furniture during rush hour.
The journey map focused on the interaction between Chelsea and the mobile app. The emotion indicator, located in the middle of the visualization, shows her emotional ups and downs: picking up the car she booked, getting stuck in traffic jams, feeling panicked in possible late return and feeling relieved after extending her rental reservation. making a rental extension.
In this exercise, we learned that Chelsea’s ability to extend her rental through the reward system helped her achieve her goals quickly and with minimal stress.
With a full range of possibilities for all potential features, it was a challenge to narrow it down to the minimal feasible product features. In discovery, it was clear the rewards feature needed to be incorporated into the final design. The user flow of how to book a car and to redeem reward points were highlighted in the paper prototype as shown below:
I created the first paper prototype to explore the possible procedure of booking a car: after login, the user was redirected to the home screen, indicating his/her current location. By filling in the pick up date/time, the user could check all the cars that were available and compare their performances if needed. The main concept was add the rewards function to the design, which showed as a pop up window when checking out.
Overall, users preferred to begin their searching in the map view and they found the process of redeeming free points was clear and easy to follow. They agreed with our concepts that a reward system would motivate them to come back to the service more often. At the same time, there were some features that needed to be clarified:
- Users were confused about how to convert unredeemed points to dollar amounts
- Users needed to find the type of car they wanted in an effective and efficient manner.
- Users wanted to get just enough information without being overwhelmed by the abundance of available car features.
Wireframe and more testing
Due to the time constraint, we did not test the revised paper prototype, instead, we created the wireframe which was incorporated the changes and discoveries made with the paper prototype. The low-fidelity wireframe was designed mainly to test the usefulness of the rewards system.
The summation of wireframe testing: users liked the simplicity of the design. They appreciated location tracking (above image: screen #6) and available pickup locations demonstrated on the map (screen #8). They also liked the pop-up window (screen #11) to remind them of unredeemed points when checking out.
Based on user testing and feedback, the following changes were made to the wireframes:
Login: the “Signup” and “Login” buttons were placed side by side instead of stacking them above each other; this helped with hierarchy and balance of the screen content (see wireframe image #1 below).
Location, date and time picker: the location selection and the date and time selector were separated and made into two screens. This made the scheduling easier to manage (see wireframe image #2 below).
Rewards: For the pop up window the dollar amounts were added next to the free points, making it easy for users to redeem their rewards when checking out (see wireframe image #3 below).
High fidelity design
Having established and tested a solid flow for the app, our team decided to bring in visual elements to our design. I started with a key element of the product brand - the logo. On February 2016 Uber released their new logo statin “The simplicity of the new logo denotes quality and elegance, while the combination of straight and curved lines convey both the confidence and approachability of our updated look.” Brand Uber, 2016 In order to design the Uber Share logo, I had to find a way to align Uber’s newly established logo concept with the name of this new service. Given the other delivery service Uber founded in August 2014, UberEats, I renamed the mobile app as Uber Share. This new name was simple, straightforward, and easy to remember.
Since the target user age is between 24-45 years old, the color yellow was selected for the logo denoting a bright cheerfulness, warmth and youthfulness. The letter S, created by the shape of negative space was a call back to the word “Share”. The overall visual concept matched Uber’s brand voice: simple, clean, and elegant.
This initial logo design, however, was not very eye-catching. Its weight was light, and the color was dull. After re-evaluating the Uber’s logo concepts, a created the new logo ( The one on the right). The color now was brighter and the weight of the stroke felt more reliable and trustworthy.
In the first version of Uber Share designs were kept simple and clear using a lot of white space. However, I had a question that too much negative space could make the design look like wireframes or simply incomplete. With this idean in mind, our team conducted a using testing.
Testing with five new participants were done on the first draft of the high fidelity designs. The feedback was mixed: Three of them liked the initial design and said it was nicely laid out and not too busy. Two others felt that the overall design was clean, but with a little too much white space, making the entire design plain and unexciting.
Based on the users' feedback, a few of the key screens were redesigned to give it a more refined and designed look.
Home page: Instead of a city image, a geometric pattern was incorporated to embrace Uber’s new “bits and atoms” brand concept. The rest of the design was kept clean and simple, also another means of matching the Uber brand voice.
Search Filter: To simplify the searching process, a filter for users to sort the type of car they would like to book was included to the designs.
Rewards: A dark overlay treatment of the photography on the rewards screens was added to evoke users’ desire to explore, travel, and experience the unknown.
Given more time, I would have liked to focus on better integration of the “fun” Uber Share brand and the “pragmatic” main Uber app brand. A good user interface design should provide a good user experience, as well as a clear identification of the brand. It should be a perfect integration of practice and visual beauty. The main Uber brand is very practical and served the purpose of offering mobility options well but sharing a car with someone can be adventurous, akin to opening up a door to explore the world, to be free to go anywhere. I would of liked to extend that idea more in the visual execution.
The secret to success for any products is to make the user feel that he or she is special. How can one make an app talking to people personally instead of uttering the same voice? It will be the challenge for designers in the present and in the future.
This four-week project guided me through the entire process of creating an application from concept to the final design. As a result, I understood and learned that:
- Knowing and understanding the users are vital to the success of the product.
- Teamwork is crucial. User experience and interaction design, like Uber Share, was a complex dynamic and the project could not have been completed alone. The team consisted of diverse professionals in design, which formed a good foundation to tackle the challenges we faced. Working closely with team made information exchange fast and efficient; it increased productivity and problem-solving ability, which was vital to meeting the tight deadline.
- I could bring humanity into design and by doing so, really transform people’s lives. It has been said art and design is everywhere but it was exciting to discover that it can be right in one’s pocket, only a thumb press away. Design has inspired me to pay more attention to the people around me and how we interact with the things we live with. I appreciate how it has made me more thoughtful, empathetic and overall a better person.