Building a better Chariot rider experience
Our mission of creating a transit solution that relieves congestion — while offering a comfortable, personalized commuting experience — is the foundation of Chariot. Over the past year, we have seen rapid growth: launching in new cities and creating new transportation solutions for both public commuter routes and private routes.
As Chariot expanded, we realized the need to rethink our rider-app experience. This past year, we listened to riders about how we could simplify the Chariot app and explored some design changes. We’re excited to announce that we are releasing our new app on the Apple App Store and Google Play this month.
Today, we want to give you a behind the scenes look at the design process that led us to create our new app.
Identifying existing pain points
At Chariot, we are our own customer; we take Chariot to and from work. We enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that we have a guaranteed, comfortable seat on a Chariot with consistency in the routes and the drivers. But we know that for a first-time rider, understanding our app can be a challenge and riders are often left asking “Do any of the Chariot routes serve my commute?, “ How do I book a ride?”, “Where do I get picked up?”, and “How do I board a Chariot?”
To understand the new rider experience we decided to ride routes that we don’t typically use for our daily commutes. This included finding our way to a pickup stop for the first time, waiting for and identifying the Chariot vehicle and driver, and using the trip to observe the riders around us. Over time, we moved from silently observing to actively engaging with our riders. While our riders were quick to tell us all the aspects of our service that they loved, they were also not shy about sharing critical feedback, including:
- Difficulty in deciding which route would be best for their commute
- Stressful experiences finding their stop for the first time
- Inaccurate estimated pickup times
- Knowing when to get off and how to navigate to their final destination
- Needing to enter the same information twice, everyday, for their daily commute.
Our User Experience Researcher, Rafae, and one of our Product Designers, Andressa, interviewing a frequent rider of Chariot to understand how it fits into her daily routine.
Lots of Prototypes
After gaining a strong understanding of our rider experience, we began building prototypes to showcase subtle and dramatic changes to our app experience. Focusing on a more comprehensible experience for first-time riders, while also providing shortcuts for our frequent riders. After many iterations of prototypes and rider feedback, we began building a new app from the ground up.
One of our Product Managers, Lei, and one of our Product Designers, Andressa, conducting remote usability testing sessions to gather feedback on early design prototypes.
You Betcha we Beta’d
We invited frequent riders from San Francisco, New York City, Austin, and London to join our beta program. This provided our first opportunity to see how our new app performed in the hands of real riders, and whether our changes led to an improved experience.
As our team conducted interviews with beta participants and received survey feedback, we recognized that we overcorrected the experience for new riders and worsened the experience for frequent riders.
(left) Our initial design for booking a Chariot emphasized the map, (right) our new design for booking a Chariot emphasizes pickup time – a change guided by Beta participant feedback.
Two Beta’s are better than one
We took the feedback from our first beta, made changes to balance ease and efficiency, and launched our second beta program, this time including brand-new riders as well.
After conducting more interviews and reviewing survey feedback, we saw dramatic improvements in our key areas of focus: improving the new-rider experience and enhancing the frequent-rider experience. This provided us with the confidence that our new Chariot app would deliver our riders a better experience compared to our current app.
While we have plenty of work left to do, from improving the sign-up experience to more integrations, we hope you find that these changes simplify your experience and ease your commute.
Thanks for riding Chariot!
Rafae, Lead User Experience Researcher
A special thanks to all our beta participants who provided invaluable feedback to our team.
This redesign was a massive undertaking that would not have been possible without the talented and dedicated Design, Engineering, Marketing, and Product team at Chariot. We’re hiring, join us!