An online survey of qualified subjects and in-person interviews
revealed a great deal about cyclists' behavior, attitudes, concerns and preferences:
Most cyclists surveyed (83%) said traffic was their greatest concern.
Avoiding traffic was more important than bike lanes.
Simple, direct routes were preferred.
Reducing travel time was more important than minimizing distance.
The majority of respondents (73%) used Google Maps to plot their routes. Google's routes favor bike lanes, but are often out of the way, unduly expose cyclists to traffic or are otherwise unsuitable.
The other cycling mapping apps (Strava, Ride with GPS) required the user to plot her/his own route and/or use Google's API.
Synthesis, Persona and Problem Statement
Based on the research, the user persona, her goals and pain points were easy to define:
How might we provide our user with a mobile app to safely navigate the city on her bike?
Routes generated should meet the following criteria:
Minimize exposure to motor vehicle traffic
Be easy to follow and remember
Take advantage of bike lanes and quiet streets
User Journey & Task Flows
Thinking about the user journey (both literal and figurative) helped define the scenarios of use, the task flows, feature set and interface design:
When and where will our persona use the app?
Before setting out, going to and from both routine and new locations.
She will also want to consult the app while in transit to check her progress and make sure she is on track.
How will these scenarios of use impact the UX design?
She will want quick access to locations that are part of her regular routine (home, work, school, etc.). She will also want the app to be aware of her current location.
Although she may consult the app indoors initially (i.e., with access to a desktop computer or tablet. However, she will most often be on the street on a mobile device (phone).
The interface therefore should be as simple and compact as possible, and interactions should be easy to perform with one hand (or wearing gloves).
While in transit, it might be awkward or inadvisable to consult her phone visually. Audio directions triggered by her location should be an option.
Besides plotting routes, what else will our user want/need to do?
Save, retrieve and share routes.
Locate points of interest.
Task flow for selecting starting point. Selecting destination offers the same "Enter New/Use Saved" options. Once destination has been entered the "Let's Ride!" (Go) button is enabled.
Design Process: Form Follows Function
The app feature set for the MVP (Minimun Viable Product) was determined using the MoSCoW method:
Return routes as map and text (cue sheet)
Allow the user save and retrieve locations and routes
Include a summary of the route (distance, bike lane use, traffic exposure)
Include an option to hear turn-by-turn directions
Allow the user to view alternate routes based on preferences (e.g., shortest, most direct, etc.)
Allow the user to share routes
Allow the user to locate nearby friends
Allow the user to post alerts re: hazards and conditions
Include estimated travel time
Include amenities: bike shops, coffee shops, public restrooms
Usability Testing and Design Iterations
Usability testing in low-fi confirmed generally strong heuristics. However, icons without text were open to creative interpretation.
Subsequent design rounds further clarified, simplified and refined the overall presentation:
Subsequent design rounds further clarified, simplified and refined the result presentation. Test subjects expressed a desire to see additional information on the map (e.g., bike shops on the route) and in the summary (estimated travel time). These may be addressed in subsequent releases.