Crafting a Mobile App: a UX Design Case Study for Startups

GUEST POST: Suelyn Yu is an interaction designer at frog (see her portfolio) and worked closely with the team at Ridejoy to help craft our iPhone application. I feel very lucky to have worked with such a kick ass designer and I think this case study should prove useful for any startup that’s looking to build a mobile app. Now, on to Suelyn!)
– Jason  
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BACKGROUND

Do you remember the last time you were traveling on the highway? I do. There are usually countless cars all around me, and yet most of them are full of empty seats. I often wonder to myself, “Why isn’t there a way for people headed in the same direction to travel together?” One company, Ridejoy, aims to solve this problem by helping people share rides anywhere, anytime.

As an interaction designer at Frog, I’ve designed to encourage people toward pro-social, offline actions. When Ridejoy was preparing to build an iPhone app, Kalvin, one of the co-founders, reached out to me for help. I worked with the Ridejoy co-founders; Christine Yen, who built the app; and Seth Warrick, who created the brand and visual design.

It just launched in the US App Store.

IPHONE DESIGN PROBLEMS

After running Ridejoy.com for several months, the team learned a great deal about their current user base. In developing an iPhone app, we wanted to do far more than just “port” the site over to mobile – but instead, craft a new experience.

We identified 3 key challenges:

  • How we get drivers and passengers to post more rides?
  • How do we speed up the process of making driver and passenger matches?
  • How should Ridejoy facilitate “arrangements” between drivers and passengers?

CHALLENGE 1: ENCOURAGING POSTING

For a rideshare service to be successful, it needs to be able to draw from a large pool of rides when matching up passengers and drivers. We know that many people are driving by themselves or are looking for an affordable ride, but if they don’t post their travel plans on Ridejoy, there is no way for these people to get matched up. Continue reading…

Color.com Launches – a link roundup

So one of the big things that happened last week in the tech world was the launch of Color, a geo-aware photo sharing app that has received $41M of funding from Sequoia Capital and other major investors before it even launched.

It’s garnered a number of different reactions from different folks in the tech world – why don’t we take a look in this week’s LINK ROUNDUP

Color Looks To Reinvent Social Interaction With Its Mobile Photo App (And $41 Million In Funding) The TechCrunch article that starts it all. Jason Kincaid gives a generous but even keel explanation of the app and why the startup behind it could be very successful.

Color This is the post on Hacker News which has a number of comments, mostly negative, about the app and the startup and why this is an example of how the tech bubble has really burst.

Aim Higher: Stop Building Photo Sharing Apps Cristina Cordova, a blogger and biz dev at Alphonso Labs, the folks behind Pulse, felt so strongly about Color that she emerged from a 6 month blogging hiatus to tell the world that startups need to aim higher than just building photo sharing apps.

Color.xxx Pitch Slides Lampoon Tech Bubble Absurdity Another hater – this time it’s a fake slideshow that mocks the premise behind Color and more broadly a great deal of the current Silicon Valley mentality when it comes to building companies.

Color Founder Bill Nguyen Explains Why You’re All Wrong — It Really IS A $41 Million Idea Business Insider gets an interview with Bill Nguyen, the cofounder of Color, who is trying hard to get on top of the negative press and explain why Color is really so compelling.

The Color Of Money MG Sigler of TechCrunch comes in with a comprehensive analysis of all the commotion and offers some interesting insights into what we really ought to take from the launch and subsequent commotion: Sequoia really believes in the app and it’s easy to call things a losing bet than throw money down on what you think is a winning bet.

‘Color’ is Primal and Kind of Brilliant The last link here is one by blogger Cody Brown who shares his own personal experience using Color and how he found it to be a fun way to connect with a neighbor. He agrees that it’s kind of creepy, but also fascinating when applied to a global scale.

So what do you think about everything that’s happened with Color? Have you had a chance to try it? I haven’t personally been able to play with it because it requires iOS 4.2 or higher and I don’t want to upgrade because I jailbroke my iPhone and want to keep tethering…

Your Life’s Secrets and the Cost of Success – Rejection Therapy Podcast 6

In this belated podcast, Jason and I talk about the Rejection Therapy iPhone application as well as the huge response to the article I wrote called Winning Isn’t Normal. Towards the end, we also review the most over-the-top book ever – Get Anyone to Do Anything: Never Feel Powerless Again. Hope you enjoy – and we’d love a review on iTunes if you do like it!