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.
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.
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.
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.