Author: Anna Filby, Digital Trainee
Anna is a Digital Trainee at Deutsche Bahn with experience in new mobility and product innovation. In her second practical posting, she worked at Mobimeo in the Communication and Marketing team. Anna is convinced that understanding the needs of the user offers a great opportunity to redesign the way we move in cities.
In Germany, people spend around 80 minutes a day on the move. They value good orientation and access to information – on all routes (Sources: Mobimeo Mobility report 2017; Infas Mobilität in Deutschland 2017). Furthermore, users want to be accompanied before and during their trip, dealing with the unexpected. In bigger cities, navigating through public transport can be overwhelming, especially on unknown routes, which results in people preferring their private car instead of using sustainable mobility options like public transport. Additionally, commuters value peace of mind on familiar and unfamiliar routes. On familiar routes, users want to relax and to make sure that they don’t miss their stop. On unfamiliar routes, users want to be guided safely through the unknown.
At Mobimeo we took those insights into account to develop a feature that accompanies users throughout the city when using public transport to offer orientation and peace of mind.
The Companion accompanies users reliably to their destination. It not only knows the best connection, but also navigates the user – as a car navigation system would – from A to B to C to D. Thanks to proactive advice during the journey users are always well informed and can be sure of finding the right way to their destination. In the event of unexpected interruptions, the Companion suggests the best alternatives and gets users to their destination quickly.
Our product development process follows an iterative design approach, a design model that allows us to get a deep understanding of user needs and to quickly develop and test feature prototypes. In the following we will give some examples on how we iterate our Live Navigation feature within different steps of the product development process.
01 Discover – Uncover basic user needs
The discovery phase, also known as exploration, is where we uncover user needs, explore opportunity spaces and innovation. We conduct research to co-define the target user and our value proposition.
Let’s have a closer look at the target user group of our Live Navigation feature and the needs that they have. Our research shows that users require a multitude of information on their route. They value live information when traveling from A to B using public transport – e.g. about transfer possibilities and expected arrivals. Users also look for guidance, for example in case of delays of public transport and a proactive suggestion for alternatives.
When we work on uncovering basic user needs, we are constantly looking for new use cases. For example, we recently conducted research where we aimed to further understand the needs and pain points that people have with navigation when using micro-mobility modes (e.g. bikes). We do this to evaluate the potential of live navigation and the benefits it could deliver to these use cases.
02 Define – In-depth research to understand user’s behaviour
In this phase we define our focus and validate our hypotheses about user needs and potential solutions. Finally, we narrow down ideas into concrete solutions.
The application of multiple research methods is possible in this step. In the case of our Live Navigation feature, we conducted some workshops to validate the value this feature could bring to the users. We used this phase to outline the user journey in detail to verify our understanding of potential target users and how they would benefit from using this feature. Furthermore, we used the workshops to find out whether the Live Navigation feature really solves the needs and pain points uncovered in the previous phase.
03 Develop – Ideate and test concepts
Within the third phase, we ideate and test our concepts. Through continuous iterations, we aim to find the most optimal solution based on user needs. Based on the results of our user tests, we prioritise information according to different criteria.
From feedback of users we learned about their need to have walking guidance to the stations. We took this feedback away to develop different concepts to resolve this need by improving our Live Navigation feature. Testing the different concepts with users helped us to pick the one delivering the most value to our users.
Another example constitutes the onboarding* of users to the Live Navigation feature. We went through an iteration process, which enabled us to go from a “global onboarding” to a “contextual onboarding” process. The contextual onboarding process makes the Live Navigation mode easier to access for the user when needed. This improved the overall user experience and enables users more quickly.
*Onboarding: button within the app which enables the user to switch to the Live Navigation mode
04 Deliver – Testing our final product
Right before we launch our product or new features in the market, we conduct alpha and beta testings to ensure that we deliver the best possible user experience. For this usability research of available features, we use various methods and sources such as in-app feedback, Mobimeo-internal field trips or crowd testing.
05 Evolve – Further develop our product
After we launch, we dig deeper into measuring impact and success. With the help of ongoing evaluations and app analytics, we have the chance to improve and expand our products.
In addition, we receive qualitative feedback from the users, which we pass on to the other teams involved in the development process. It helps us to further improve live navigation and to increase user engagement.
Outlook: In our next episode, we will give some deeper insights on how we further innovate the Companion by exploring a turn-by-turn guidance component. By doing so, we follow our vision for Companion: to bring peace of mind to millions of users.