Innovating Live Navigation based on Mobimeo’s approach for user-centric product development

Author: Sophie Weckemann

Why we develop Live Navigation

Mobimeo launched the Com­pan­ion, a Live Nav­i­ga­tion fea­ture for jour­neys with pub­lic trans­port, in Berlin’s BVG Fahrin­fo app which accom­pa­nies users reli­ably to their des­ti­na­tion. The Com­pan­ion knows the best con­nec­tion for users to take and noti­fies them about dis­rup­tions that occur on the jour­ney. In the event of unex­pect­ed inter­rup­tions, it sug­gests the best alter­na­tives and gets users to their des­ti­na­tion quick­ly and with peace of mind.

Pri­or to the roll-out of the fea­ture at large scale, it was test­ed with a group of beta users to assure the high­est qual­i­ty stan­dards. After the roll-out, users were able to pro­vide feed­back through an in-app sur­vey so we could con­tin­u­ous­ly eval­u­ate the expe­ri­ence pro­vid­ed with the Companion.

Both through the beta test and the in-app sur­vey, feed­back was col­lect­ed that exposed a user need to fur­ther address with the fea­ture: Close guid­ance for walk­ing parts to and from sta­tions as well as inside and around stations.

More­over, the Prod­uct and Design teams want­ed to explore user needs relat­ed to oth­er pos­si­ble use cas­es for the Com­pan­ion to find more ways to guide users in the best and most sus­tain­able way possible.

How we proceed to innovate Live Navigation

User-cen­tric prod­uct devel­op­ment doesn’t mean imple­ment­ing what­ev­er a user asks for, it means dig­ging deep and inves­ti­gat­ing the needs beneath a user’s request.

To pro­vide users with the best pos­si­ble nav­i­ga­tion expe­ri­ence, we want­ed to holis­ti­cal­ly explore how peo­ple nav­i­gate when they trav­el on unfa­mil­iar routes. We want­ed to learn which strate­gies they use, which infor­ma­tion they look for, what their needs and chal­lenges are and which kind of guid­ance could help them get to their des­ti­na­tion with even less effort.

The user research team (UX Research) at Mobimeo applied these ques­tions to sev­er­al use cas­es relat­ed to trav­el­ling with pub­lic trans­port, walk­ing, and using micro-mobil­i­ty, name­ly bicy­cle and kick-scoot­er shar­ing. To address the ques­tions, we decid­ed to run both explorato­ry inter­views and test a pro­to­type of a new iter­a­tion of the Com­pan­ion feature.

Char­ac­ter­is­tics of our research sample

What is most important for Live Navigation in public transport

In the inter­views we dis­cov­ered that users reg­u­lar­ly encounter issues on cer­tain steps of their itin­er­aries, espe­cial­ly when nav­i­gat­ing on an unfa­mil­iar route in their city. They are faced with the chal­lenge of stay­ing ori­ent­ed when trav­el­ing with pub­lic trans­port, walk­ing, rid­ing a bike or a kick-scoot­er, even if they make use of nav­i­ga­tion apps.

Thus, not get­ting lost is an impor­tant need. Users try to avoid it by plan­ning ahead and mak­ing a great effort to gain and repeat­ed­ly regain ori­en­ta­tion while traveling.

Peo­ple make use of com­plex strate­gies to find their ways. They con­tin­u­ous­ly process con­tex­tu­al infor­ma­tion, make uncon­scious pri­or­i­ti­za­tions and deci­sions and mul­ti­task heav­i­ly while mov­ing along their jour­ney. Envi­ron­men­tal cues such as land­marks are used to deter­mine the right direc­tion along­side oth­er fac­tors like geo­graph­ic knowl­edge, pri­or expe­ri­ences and social cues, i.e. which direc­tions oth­er peo­ple are taking.

Var­i­ous nav­i­ga­tion apps are used as an aux­il­iary means to find and inter­pret con­tex­tu­al infor­ma­tion. How­ev­er, in their cur­rent scope of func­tion­al­i­ty they do not ful­ly meet the needs of users on the go in cities. Users require a high lev­el of data accu­ra­cy and reli­a­bil­i­ty in the way they are guid­ed. What is also impor­tant, in many cas­es guid­ance is insuf­fi­cient­ly spec­i­fied for com­mon use cas­es of every day travel.

Giv­en the com­plex­i­ty of the task that users have to per­form, the pro­to­type test of the Com­pan­ion fea­ture revealed how its design needs to pro­vide a mul­ti­tude of infor­ma­tion in a high­ly struc­tured and syn­chro­nized, yet intu­itive and rad­i­cal­ly sim­ple manner.

User-centricity is key for product development at Mobimeo

It is only pos­si­ble to offer tru­ly user-cen­tric prod­ucts when the needs of users are close­ly eval­u­at­ed and ful­ly tak­en into account. At Mobimeo, we care about under­stand­ing which prob­lems our users encounter on their urban jour­neys so we can evolve our prod­ucts and cre­ate val­ue for them. Lever­ag­ing research con­duct­ed for Live Nav­i­ga­tion, we can iter­ate and improve the fea­ture to bring it to the next lev­el. Hence, we can deliv­er on the vision we set: To accom­pa­ny users reli­ably in sit­u­a­tions in which they need it and to make mov­ing through cities with sus­tain­able modes of trans­porta­tion easier.