Easing daily commute for professionals in Lagos

YEAR
2019
ROLE
ux, pRODUCT DESIGN
platform
ANDROID
Shuttlers is a safe and comfortable bus-pooling service for working professionals in Lagos designed to help manage the stress that comes with commuting through traffic in Lagos.
Professionals fund their Shuttlers wallet, book a bus going through their route, join the bus at a specified bus-stop and enjoy a stress-free ride with an opportunity to network with other professionals.

Defining the problem

Shuttlers had an existing web platform and Android app relying on WhatsApp as the primary tool for booking shuttles for their customers, managing customers' payments and communicating the status of buses too. This meant that the team had a working process, and also a mechanism for learning about the needs and behaviors of their users.
However, WhatsApp was not scalable. With an increasing user base and bookings, it was important to deliver an experience for customers to manage bookings and payments themselves, leveraging the learnings from their existing booking process. I led the design of the booking experience for their web platform and Android app which was exciting and challenging.

Search

With e-hailing services like Uber, Lyft or Careem, users could specify exact pick up and drop off points for their rides.
However, this approach was incongruent with the way bus pooling services functioned because a single bus is optimized to follow a route that ensures other members joining the bus are equally serviced.
User research revealed that working professionals who commuted with public transport in Lagos knew where to join and drop from a bus. As such, I decided to create a simple search experience that allowed users provide information that was most relevant - where they liked to join the bus or drop off.  In real time, the parameters is used to provide a list of potential bus routes (with available seats) that users could join.

Creating a schedule

Shuttlers mobile app
Working professionals needed to commute to work every single day they worked, and a core part of Shuttlers strategy was to rely on long-term booking to ensure recurring revenue. In addition, this also allowed the business to create a pricing strategy that ensured the service was affordable for customers.
The booking process was designed to nudge users to commit to a longer relationship with the service. I designed an affordance that allowed users specify how long they planned to use the service for and what specify days they planned to join the bus.

A digital bus pass

A key part of the Shuttler experience was joining the bus, as such our design thinking process was not only limited to booking a bus through the app. Some of the users I talked to highlighted that they were under pressure as they commuted to work as it was important to get to work on time.
We designed a digital bus pass that could be printed or accessed via their mobile devices. This digital bus pass was shown to the bus conductor and allowed passengers access to the shuttle.
A manual verification process was preferred to using RFID or other technologies for two key reasons: we were not confident that all users' devices could support whatever technology we adopted, and internet connectivity was inconsistent from location to location in Lagos, and optimizing for speed was key.

Trip updates

From an operational standpoint, it was equally important to consider how service disruptions could affect users. Consequently, I designed a communication channel for Shuttlers to continuously provide updates about things like delays caused by traffic or accidents, or a change in routes to users.

Learnings and retrospect

In designing the app, we adopted a design thinking process that allowed us to test and iterate on our ideas. I went from an experience where users could select their bus stops on a map to a more simple yet powerful search experience.
An interesting part of design and product development is that answers lead to more questions. Some interesting things the team plans to learn from the finished product include:
  • How useful will the service be for customers who had no idea what bus stops was most optimal for them?
  • Certain users were probably taking routes that were somewhat inefficient and expensive. How will the service help these sets of users migrate to a more cost-efficient route?
  • What kinds of effects will having a schedule process have on conversions during the booking process?
An interesting part of design and product development is that answers lead to more questions. Some interesting things the team plans to learn from the finished product include: