The UX research view: How to meet the needs of a variety of users

March 23, 2023
5 min
Die Corona-Pandemie hat sich auf fast alle Bereiche des öffentlichen und privaten Lebens ausgewirkt. Auch mit Blick auf die Mobilität hat die Krise für noch nie da gewesene Verhältnisse gesorgt und Entwicklungen beschleunigt, die sich sonst wahrscheinlich erst in einigen Jahren realisiert hätten. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) kann eine Lösung für Mobilitätsanbieter sein, um mit den Folgen der Pandemie umzugehen.
Mobimeo is developing a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform for everyday mobility. Our goal is to make getting around easier and cities greener – throughout Germany. To this end, we support public transport companies and associations as partners in digitalising their services. To accelerate this process and not leave the digital customer interface to tech companies from outside the sector, we believe it is crucial to establish standards for the key aspects of a MaaS platform. In a series of blog articles, the Mobimeo teams reveal how important standards are for a nationwide MaaS platform. This time we are talking to Karla Balderas, UX Research Lead at Mobimeo.

Hi Karla. When it comes to establishing standards for a standardised mobility platform: what three hashtags come to mind for you?

From our team’s perspective, these are clearly #TestFastFailFast, #MobilityAsAMindset and #BeAPartner.


#TestFastFailFast? Tell us more!

We operate in a digital world where speed is an important success factor. Our challenge is to make the right product decisions for a broad target group. Of course, we could go ahead and base our product development decisions on assumptions. But product development is usually expensive. Thus, having a process in place to validate our assumptions is necessary to avoid unnecessary costs. In a more traditional industry it usually takes months of market research to gain such insights and that would be fine. Due to the nature of our product, we don't have that kind of time at Mobimeo. So one of the things you have to do, to survive in the digital world and to compete with the best and fastest in the industry, is to establish market research standards that quickly lead you to the results of what works for users and what doesn't. One of our tasks as the User Experience (UX) Research Team is to incorporate user input and feedback into every phase of product development. To this end, we have established internal processes that help us generate ideas, test them quickly and learn from the results. Putting users in the spotlight and listening to them is an integral part of Mobimeo’s DNA.


And how exactly do you do that?

By being user-centric: at Mobimeo we place the users’ needs at the centre of what we do. We listen to them and use the insights we gain to constantly develop our platform. One method we use is what we call the Insights Train, which our UX designer Sorin mentioned earlier. This is where the Product, Tech and Design teams join us as researchers to get direct user feedback. It has proven to be very effective, for example when answering exploratory questions, developing new prototypes or improving existing features.

We also incorporate direct feedback into product development. As soon as a product is launched, we start getting direct feedback about our app. We collect and analyse this, sometimes combining it with the usage behaviour that our analytics team collects and evaluates. We then share the results with the other teams at Mobimeo. 

In addition, we are currently working on UX key performance indicators (KPIs) that allow us to accurately track how our products are being adopted. This helps us to compare our perceived user experience with that of our competitors.


As your second hashtag you named #MobilityAsAMindset…

Exactly! In product development, companies usually rely on personas. Why do they use personas? The idea here is to develop products that are precisely tailored to a specific target group. In theory it sounds great, but for a company in the mobility sector it’s hard to implement as we quickly reach our limits with this approach. That stems from the needs and goals of our target group, which are very different from the needs of, say, a music streaming platform’s target group. In the mobility industry, we speak of “user journeys”, and these user journeys vary depending on the context and the goal. Here’s an example: as a management consultant, I simply want to arrive at my morning meeting on time. Using the persona approach, the consultant would be a different persona to a student who wants to get to their morning lecture on time. Using the mindset model, which is based on people’s needs, goals and expectations (as described by Kellie Cummings) we could group the consultant and the student together, since they both have the same mindset in the mobility context: “Be on time”.
In recent years, we have noticed that the principle of personas is not a good fit for the development of a mobility platform. That’s why we now think in terms of mindsets at Mobimeo. 


Can you expand a little on the concept of mindsets?

We need to focus on the type and purpose of a journey – and what information is needed for it. This varies from one mindset to another, but with this approach we can create a single product that meets the needs of a wide range of users, all of whom have the “Be on time” or “ Be spontaneous” mindsets at that moment. This makes it far easier for us to develop and improve products that meet situational mobility needs.


And what do you mean by #BeAPartner?

First and foremost, mobility means freedom. Today, to get from A to B without your own car but with various mobility providers, you still have to use several apps for a single user journey. These include the apps of public transport providers, sharing vehicles and on-demand transport. Users also want to be informed about any traffic jams or delays and often use the apps of map services for this purpose. Moreover, there’s always more than one way to get from A to B. Mobility in cities is very complex and this complexity can sometimes overwhelm users. What people need in this situation is not just an app that clearly presents all the options so that they can make the right individual choice. But they need an app that provides them with all the relevant information for their individual mobility needs in a clear and simple manner. That way, they can make decisions quickly and easily. Because one thing is clear: when it comes to everyday mobility, the app that requires the least attention and effort from its users will ultimately win.


Does the hashtag #BeAPartner also apply to the mobility industry?

Definitely! For me, this hashtag is also based on the partner approach which we pursue at Mobimeo. We are a partner for the public transport industry by providing them a state-of-the-art digital solution for their users. I’m not pointing out anything new when I say that our market is highly fragmented. Every mobility provider, whether a public transport company or a sharing provider, is faced with a multitude of different regulations and laws, which also vary from state to state. This makes it considerably more difficult to attract new target groups. The mindset model enables us to standardise our product development. And by standardising, we help our partners to penetrate the market and reach a broader target group.  


From your team’s point of view, what else could play an important role in successfully developing and establishing a standard mobility platform?

It’s important that we all pull together. This applies not only to the Mobimeo teams, but also to the cooperation with our partners. The key question for everyone should be: How can we offer the best digital product for our users? To some extent, this calls for a rethink of the industry towards user centricity. If we want people to permanently change their mobility behaviour in the digital world, we first have to know precisely what their needs are. Only then can we offer just the right solutions.


Can you give us an important figure from the mobility industry from a UX research perspective?

9,833. That’s how many pieces of feedback we received and analysed in the fourth quarter of 2022.


Our now customary last question for you, Karla: What is your personal vision for the future of a standard mobility platform?

Above all, the question should be: What do the users get out of it? Only that added value will lead to a lasting change in their mobility behaviour.


Thank you very much for the interview, Karla.