This exercise is done as part of the Innovator’s Practice class I took at the GSD in 2015.
Tools / InDesign, Photoshop, InVision
Team / Arianna Zhang (Havard College); Natasha Polozenko (MDes, GSD); Rae Pozdro (MArch I, GSD); Yina Smith-Danenhower (MArch I, GSD)
Role / market research, overall strategy and ideation, competitive analysis, user interviews, personas, presentation
Our team was interested in solving “the last mile” problem - the fact that commuting is part of everyone’s daily life, yet it takes a lot of time. Often times unless you drive, you will not arrive at the destination by your means of commute, and will have to walk the “last mile.”
"How might we improve the commute experience?"
Our research confirms our assumption that commuting is usually a stressful process for most people. However, we also discovered that a fine alternative is already existing - the light-weight electric vehicle (LEVs). From there, our project changed focus from wanting to invent a new product, to creating an app that facilitates the adoption of light-weight electric vehicles. The app will provide crowd-sourced route information as well as a second-hand market for trading LEVs to encourage adoption of LEVs. It will also be the hub for the LEV community to exchange tips. The app works together with a series of in-person events to encourage people to learn, purchase, and excel at LEVs.
Second-hand market for LEVs
Reduce the cost for acquiring LEVs
Instead of investing $2000+ for a new LEV as a beginner, get an alternative from our second-hand market to try LEVs with a low investment.
Real-time crowd-sourced route information
Get real-time data from other users about route conditions, traffic, and weather.
Provide route information specific to LEVs in real time. With reliable real-time route information, going on a trip on a LEV is made less unpredictable and intimidating.
Community events to facilitate adoption
The app and event component work hand-in-hand to encourage adoption
Venues that are safe for LEV practices are selected for community events, where beginners can practice with minimal safety concerns.
Connect with other LEV commuters on the app
Ask questions about new products, get advice on the best training routine and LEV gears.
Desktop Research Online Survey Interviews Competitive Analysis
The last mile explained
First, we established consensus to what the “last mile” means, so that the team has a consensus before we dive deep into research.
Scope of the problem
We looked at similar products that addresses the last mile problem.
Solutions that are out there right now include foldable bikes, foldable scooters, transit informations service, per minute rental car, and bike sharing.
The problem with many of the consumer vehicle solutions is that they are still too expensive. The foldable scooter for example costs just under 2000, which is likely not to be affordable by students.
So cost, as we’ve identified, is a concern when we design our product.
We asked our survey participants three main questions: “How long is your daily commute?”, “how do you get to work?” and “what are your main concerns when commuting?” We concluded that most commutes are 0 to 3 miles and most people use walking and bicycles in combination with train, bus or cars. Most importantly, their main concerns are safety, appearance, efficiency, and weather.
We also asked our interviewees, "what are their biggest pain points in using the current last-mile solutions?
We interviewed all our classmates and ourselves, totalled 22 interviews and extracted the following personas and data.
After learning that there are many existing pain points from using current last mile tools, we then ask the question: “what properties should an alternative vehicle have?
PROPERTIES AN ALTERNATIVE SHOULD HAVE
After our research, we realized that a fairly new product, light-weight electric vehicles (LEV) is already existing in the market. However, when we ask people what they used to commute, or look up national data of people’s preferred commute tool, we did not see any presence of LEVs. Since there is already a solution, we re-focused the last mile problem to, why are people not adopting LEVs? What factors were prohibiting people from using LEVs? How might we encourage wider adoption of LEVs so people will have an easier time commuting everyday? We did another round of interviews, and identified the following 4 main factors in preventing users from adopting LEVs.
We came up with an (app X event) strategy that together offers four main features that we believe will address each of the prohibiting factors.
Create a second-hand, centralised market place.
Provide dynamic, crowd-sourced route information.
Build and connect a community of new and existing users.
Host regular events to let users practice in a safe environment, in order to get over the initial fear, it also increases visibility for new products.
Next we went ahead to sketch out what each feature will look like in our app, which we named RIDER.
splash screen sign in/ sign up screen event calendar LEV community
Real-time crowd sourced route information Second-Hand LEV market
We presented the project at the end of the semester, and submitted the project to apply to Harvard iLab’s residency. Due to fierce competition that spring, we did not get accepted. However, we will look for a chance to implement the app in the future.
Develop a final mock-up for user testing
Because of the time constraint of the semester, we were only able to bring it to a mock-up of all of our proposed functionalities. A future final mock-up starting from on-boarding, to the sign in/sign up process, to how to buy and sell on the second-hand market, to how to leave route information in real time, will be needed to test if this app actually helps people adopt LEVs with more ease.
Integration with other social media apps
Because RIDER depends so much on the LEV community, user contributions of comments and photos of themselves using LEVs are paramount to the success of RIDER. Further research is needed to narrow down which social media app is most used by riders.
Freemium model for event participation
We would like to keep the public events free by finding LEV sponsors. If the events are free, we should devise a mechanism to keep people from abusing these events by signing up and not showing up. Users should be able to use the app for check-in at the events, and will be barred from participating in future events or the online second-hand market if they fail to show up for three times.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED
Teamwork is empathy, listening, and being honest but respectful.
This team was mostly designers. As a result, we all had strong opinions. One thing that I learned doing this project is how to work in a team, and how to be a good listener. When there is a conflict in the group I tried to be fair and offer unbiased and logical suggestions to find a compromising solution. I tried my best to be present and committed - I had a fair share on fieldwork participation, offered a flexible schedule, was present when the team was brainstorming together, and offered my skills when it was relevant. I’ve found a way to be honest but respectful, especially when there are members who might be creating a negative dynamic in the group, whether it be someone who was dominating but not rational (simply want own opinion to be carried out) , or someone who tended to disengage during meetings or task sharing. When those situations happened in the past I wasn't sure how to have the conversation that is constructive and sensitive at the same time. After this experience, I realized it is important to develop empathy for your fellow teammates, and listening attentively to their concerns. When facing a truly bad idea, be honest and respectful.