Hi Sorin, the designers at Mobimeo belong to a number of different product teams. Off the top of your head, what three hashtags would you associate with the term "standard mobility platform" from a product perspective?
One that immediately springs to mind is #EasyAccess.
What exactly do you mean by that?
More than anything, our design system! At Mobimeo we go by the credo of "radically simple". That's why our design system is inspired by the great industrial designer Dieter Rams, who pioneered the reduced and iconic design of Braun. Our design system provides the framework for us to work within when developing our design language and our ideal user interface (UI) for mobile apps. For two reasons, we opted for a uniform, standardised design right from the start. Users should be able to access the information they need at a glance, without having to go around the houses. And thanks to our white-label approach, our customers get apps delivered in their brand's look-and-feel that they can rapidly deploy in high aesthetic quality without having to go through any customisation process. To achieve both these aims, we employ standardised layout elements to ensure that the apps always have a consistent look, even when several teams are working on them. For Mobimeo's apps to be highly usable, it is essential that users immediately recognise their key elements, otherwise they may get lost in a jungle of different public transport and sharing providers, for example, when searching for a route. Our goal is to avoid exactly that.
How do you make sure that all the teams are pulling in the same direction?
Internal guidelines and processes are vital for this. We have established various checkpoints to ensure that everyone involved is thinking and working along the same lines. For example, when a new feature is being developed, the relevant designer always has to present it at two Design Review meetings. Feedback from the initial round is implemented first, then the optimised version is presented a second time. We also have Design Chapter Days every fortnight, where all design teams are informed about new processes and new versions of the software we use.
Can you think of a second hashtag related to "standardised mobility platform"?
I think I speak for our entire team when I throw #BestUsability into the mix. Usability, or user-friendliness, is crucial if users are to keep using an app in the long run. Even if we have the very best designers on board, we always need to take a reality check from our users. That's why we work so closely with our User Experience (UX) Research team. To gather information on user needs, the team has come up with tools such as the Insights Train as well as moderated and unmoderated user tests. We regularly participate in these and other sessions to obtain valuable feedback. Our UX Research Lead Karla can tell you more about this. Of course, we also keep a close eye on the results of our analytics team so that we can constantly improve our app design based on usage data.
All good things come in threes: what comes to mind as the third hashtag?
#Accessibility. To be honest, we are not quite where we want to be yet, but we are on a very good path. The colours of our design system correspond to grade AA of the standards defined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Of the three quality classes A, AA and AAA, AA is currently set to become mandatory for accessibility within the European Union. For digital offerings, this means that smaller fonts must be presented in higher contrast. We also pay attention to the dynamic adaptation of the font on different devices. Elements must not be cut off or information lost when a user enlarges the font. As a next step, we are working on speech output for people with visual impairments.
From your team's perspective, what else is important for the apps you design to be successful?
For us, the dynamic among the different designers is especially important. We don't work in bubbles, we exchange ideas regularly – with the overarching goal of continuously improving our platform and moving it forward. This also applies across disciplines to our collaboration with colleagues from Product and Engineering (Tech). To this end, we have regular DEP (design-engineering-product) sessions where we compare our various expectations of the product we are jointly developing from our respective viewpoints. This helps us both with strategic decisions and with setting priorities for our product roadmap.
How are the teams at Mobimeo actually structured?
We rely primarily on vertical teams, which are always made up of product, tech, research and design experts. Each one acts as an ambassador for their own discipline – and for Mobimeo as a company. Ultimately, we all work closely with public transport operators and sharing providers to come up with the best UX for the app users.
What are some other reasons why standards play such a major role in good UX design?
At Mobimeo, we have to bring together a whole range of mobility providers and functions on one platform. The more standards we establish in the design, the easier it will be for users to search for and book the mobility service that suits them. That's why we present the public transport and sharing providers in the same way within our app. All search results are displayed identically. This makes it much easier for users to view and compare the results. The same applies to booking journeys: the booking process should always look similar, regardless of whether the user wants to take public transport or use an e-scooter. Of course, different information is needed in each case, but we use the same UI style, the same design elements and interaction paradigms. In the end, an active public transport ticket in our app looks almost the same as an active car sharing booking. After all, our task is to meet the needs of a broad target group that is highly diverse in terms of age and other demographic factors.
Last question: For you as a UX designer, what is your future vision for Mobimeo?
For me personally, the answer is very clear: we want to develop the best-in-class design for mobile apps.
Thank you very much for the interview, Sorin.