8 things Uber can teach you about product design

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  • 2015 The App Business

    8 Things Uber Can Teach YouEssential lessons in product design

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  • 2015 The App Business

    In the past, modifying people's behaviour meant advertising. Today, companies can change behaviour through incredible user experience.*

    Uber can be thought of as the ultimate habit-forming service. The experience is often so good, that after your first ride, youll probably never go back to using a regular taxi again.

    Uber didnt do this by changing the vehicle or retraining drivers. Instead, it built an app that fundamentally changed how we order, meet, and pay for a car.

    By taking a broader view of what a car service could be, Uber was able to totally reimagine the entire experience - offering relentless reliability and a seamless system that addressed many of the issues that plagued the analogue taxi experience.

    * Nir Eyal, Author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

  • 2015 The App Business

    Attract new users, and get them smoothly through the gate.


  • 2015 The App Business

    Uber sets the benchmark for friction-free onboarding. Every step in the process has been painstakingly considered - and streamlined further - to make it as quick and painless as possible for the user.

    Connecting through a Facebook account (top right), for example, saves time during onboarding by automatically filling in otherwise tedious information fields. Payment details are captured in a similarly easy fashion: just hold your debit/credit card in front of your camera. The app reads the numbers and inputs the information automatically without requiring the user to do anything further (bottom right).

    Once your personal and payment details are in, you are good to go - Uber wont trouble you for the information again. The hassle of payment just disappears from the experience altogether.

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    Perhaps one of the reasons Uber has been able to grow its user base so astronomically is due to its clever and strategic use of incentives.

    The beauty of this process is that loyal customers become highly effective salespeople. The individual in return gets a reward, namely more credit on their account, whenever someone new in their network uses their unique code and takes their ride. The more influence you have, the more credit you earn. Its a win-win and a mutually beneficial bargain.

    Like everything Uber does, the process of referral is designed to be incredibly easy. There are no big forms to fill out, slow webpages to wait on or any need to switch from your phone to your desktop - everything can be done within the app. They even provide users with the choice to send out invites via email, social media or text message.

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    Make it so simple, even a first-timer knows what to do next.


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    Ubers user interface (UI) is so simple and intuitive that it doesnt need to teach new users how to operate the app. Its obvious.

    At the core of the app is a map with the users location at the centre. Available drivers roam around them, and the entire booking process happens seamlessly on just one screen.

    It all adds up to an incredibly simple experience that allows even the most inexperienced user to feel confident and in control at every stage.

    Colour is used strategically and the most important elements stand out from everything else on the screen. The black buttons are impossible to miss and encourage users to tap on them to proceed with their booking.

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    Require only the bare minimum for a user to achieve their goal.


  • 2015 The App Business

    Uber is a great blueprint for design thinking. They have nailed the critical question: What is the least amount of work a user has to do, to achieve their desired outcome?

    Stripping the process of booking a car to its bare essentials, there are just three simple interactions a user needs to fulfil their needs:

    1. Set pickup location 2. Select type of vehicle 3. Request driver

    And at every step, Uber has once again painstakingly considered how they could make the experience as fast and effortless as possible. Upon opening the app, users can immediately see the available cars nearby, the pickup location automatically centres on their current location and the previously used vehicle is set as default.

    In most cases, the entire process can be completed in just two taps - and this is even further refined to just one single interaction with wearables like the Apple Watch, shown right.

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    Use simple, actionable notifications to inform and reassure users.


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    Uber uses notifications to convey only the information that is absolutely integral to your experience and which needs to be acted upon immediately.

    This means users dont have to check the app to find out about their booking status: all of this information is sent to them proactively and at the right moment, when they actually need it. In most cases, users will only receive two notifications during their Uber experience:

    The first notification (top right) arrives as soon as the driver has accepted the booking. If the user then opens the app to find out more, they are greeted with the name and picture of the driver, registration number, car type, real-time location and ETA. All of which is vital information that helps make the user feel in control and reassured.

    The second notification (bottom right) occurs when the driver is near, letting the user know that their Uber is arriving imminently. This triggers the user to look out for the driver and hop in the car.

    Notification 1

    Notification 2

  • 2015 The App Business

    Utilise data-driven insights to power and continuously improve your UX.


  • 2015 The App Business

    Data has allowed Uber to address many of the major frustrations that plagued the analogue taxi industry - such as ordering a taxi, knowing how much it is going to cost in advance, and how long it will take to arrive.

    Uber uses real-time analytics to provide fare estimates, driver location and estimated time to pick-up. It then creates pricing based on market driven forces of supply and demand.

    Uber also utilises data to ensure driver supply is available to reduce wait time and meet demand. It tracks its users location data to alert drivers where there are hot spots of high demand.

    Also, by looking at past data, Uber can anticipate when there are likely to be shortages of drivers, and then proactively launch targeted campaigns to stimulate supply. This ensures that customers enjoy a more responsive, efficient service.

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    Uber thrives on customer feedback and transparency. Before users can book their next ride, they must rate their previous experience out of 5 stars. Drivers also have to rate their passenger before they can pick up their next fare.

    Capturing feedback is essential to maintaining the integrity of the service by ensuring that the best drivers are allowed to keep driving for Uber. It also means that he best passengers are given preference over those that have a lower rating.

    Ubers local community managers make it their mission to be there for customers when they have any issues with the service. Their always on, 24/7 customer support capabilities allows them to address issues in real time, and they have a no quibbles approach to refunds if the service is ever at fault.

    By maintaining this always on approach to customer service, Uber can continuously improve its product offering and pinpoint any flaws in the user experience much more rapidly than traditional taxi companies.

  • 2015 The App Business

    Grow global, but think local.


  • 2015 The App Business

    Uber has seen its fair share of legal controversy and has been labelled a bully by the global media. Regardless of the veracity of this, what remains interesting is that people still love Uber!

    This can be attributed to its efforts to align itself with user needs, and get in-touch with local culture to generate public support at a grassroots level.

    Ubers global expansion work has been paradoxically hyperlocal. Each market has its own customer service team, a city-specific social media team, thoughtful marketing and local partnerships tailored to the population to foster community.

    TOP: In Delhi, Uber celebrated Holi, the festival of colours, by bringing colours and water balloons on demand. BOTTOM LEFT: Uber celebrated Chinese New Year by bringing lion dances on demand to China and Singapore. BOTTOM RIGHT: Uber celebrated St Patricks Day in Sydney with green cars in the app.

  • 2015 The App Business

    Have a little fun, and be human.


  • 2015 The App Business

    Although at a high level, Uber is really good at connecting people with rides within minutes, it doesnt take itself too seriously.

    Uber isnt afraid to have a little fun with what they can deliver and this lends a powerful, compelling personality to the company.

    Uber has delivered everything from ice-creams to kittens - and they have even even gone so far as to offer chopper rides to exotic locations. Whilst not every company can do this, the underlying idea here is a strong one: dont be afraid of letting your hair down and having a little fun. Its worth it to surprise and delight your customers every now and then.

  • 2015 The App Business

    Keep experimenting and keep evolving.


  • 2015 The App Business

    The key to any company's long-term growth is its ability to identify how its products and services of today can form the infrastructure of a bigger, better business model tomorrow.

    Although Uber started as an on-demand car service, the company continues to experiment and evolve into a real-time logistics network, continually testing new products that benefit both customers and the cities in which it operates.

    Today, Uber is experimenting with a bike messenger service in NYC, a cargo service in Hong Kong, and even an on-demand food delivery service in Chicago.

    And tomorrow? Well have to wait and see.

    R U S H

    TOP: In New York, Uber experiments with a bike messenger service.. BOTTOM LEFT: Ubers on-demand food delivery service in Chicago.. BOTTOM RIGHT: Hong Kongs cargo service, courtesy of Uber.

  • 2015 The App Business

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