UberBooster

 
 Photo by  Jamie du Pould
 

UberBooster - Car Seat Feature for Uber


The Challenge: An Uber Accessibility Study

 

Currently, there are some accessibility challenges for folks who need assistance for travel, among them wheelchair users, people with ambulatory disabilities and may need assistance getting into a vehicle, and people who are deaf or hard of hearing. This article from Uber outlines, pretty thoroughly, the work Uber is currently doing to ensure that access is extended to people of all abilities.

Unfortunately, in spite of the attention given to accessibility, there is relatively little information on Uber's ability to accommodate car seats. The Uber Car Seat program, available since mid-2014, has been relegated as pilot program that serves only NYC.

 

User Testing: The Importance of the Little Black Bar

 

I conducted user testing by putting the app in front of my friends and family, and asking them to try booking an Uber with a car seat. It was in conducting this user research that I discovered the importance of a tiny interaction in the Uber UI. This momentary animation is enough to indicate to the user that the content here is a scrollable nav.

Overall, people's familiarity with the interface seemed to determine most where they would look for an accessibility feature. I found the following to be true:

  • New users of the app sought out the Help section, then tried to find accessibility information.
  • Moderate & heavy users of the app instinctively looked through the navigation of the app, but often at the prompting of the little black bar.
 The tiny black bar shown here scans across the top of the white content box as the content loads, indicating to the user that the content here is a scrollable nav.

The tiny black bar shown here scans across the top of the white content box as the content loads, indicating to the user that the content here is a scrollable nav.

 
 
 

Sarah: Light User

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Doesn't have the app on her phone. Has ridden in Ubers, but they were booked by friends.

Dan: Moderate User

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Will use the app when traveling. Opens and uses app 1-2 times monthly.

Jess: Heavy User

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Uses app most weekends to get around the city. Opens and uses app 2-3 times weekly.

 

Iteration

 

Method 1: Help! I Have a Baby!

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So called because it involves the user going to the "Help" section to find information on accessibility, and car seats. Notes on this concept include the following:

  • (+) New users instinctively went to the "Help" section when looking for info on car seats.
  • (-) Relegating an accessibility feature to the "Help" section makes it look like something of an afterthought, tacked on to a catch-all section of the app.
  • (-) "Does "Help" mean I need help clearing up a question with the app, or I need help accessing an Uber?" - this is ambiguous.
  • (-) It is easy for a user to go through the entire requesting process without ever knowing this option is offered.

Method 2: The Pizza Pie Method

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So called because, in this scenario, you could think of your Uber as your "pizza pie", and accessibility offerings as "toppings". Notes on this concept include:

  • (+) Uber users are not limited in what type of car they can book, and have the full docket of offerings available to them.
  • (+) Could be helpful in the event that Uber chooses, eventually, to offer an array of perks/accessibility offerings (bike rack, offers food & drink, request Spanish-speaking Uber driver, etc.)
  • (-) Feature may be "hidden" from plain view in the booking process; we would likely need to have to break this feature out somewhere after users select their car
  • (-) More steps in booking process => longer time to booking request (could deter some users)
  • (-) Redundancy of user flow (too many ways to book a car seat.)

Method 3: Native Accessibility 

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So called because it brings an accessibility feature into the native flow of the app. Key points on this method:

  • (+) Very clear user flow for moderate- to heavy- users. They know just where to find this feature.
  • (-) New users, however, seem to have trouble understanding the nav.
  • (0) Where will Uber draw the line between a feature within the Uber app and a new app within the Uber family of apps?
 

Key 
(+) = Benefit
(-) = Drawback
(0) = Neutral


Prototyping

 
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To create a feature that kept the look & feel of Uber's current brand, I made sure to design iconography that worked with Uber's illustrative style. A change in color of the car seats indicates the difference between providing your own carseat, versus using a carseat provided and safely installed by Uber.

 
 
 
 
 

Ultimately, guided by user testing and some precedent studies, I determined where my priorities were in designing the final prototype:

  • Create a feature that is people friendly - not buried in a bunch of menus, and sets a precedent of making accessibility a foremost feature.
  • Ensure that the design aligns with Uber's current brand language & UI.
  • Design a feature that doesn't limit users; keep it flexible (i.e., allow users to bring their own car seats, add more than one car seat, etc.).
 

The Prototype

 

Recent work: