(This post would probably would be better titled: Lessons in Mobile UX from Uber)
However, this post is not about the greatness of Uber but rather focused on the user experience with the application – and what it means for the next generation of innovation.
If you’ve never used Uber, here’s how it works once you already have the application installed:
1. Hit the application button on your iPhone
2. The application opens and you see a blue dot of your current location and a red pin that lets you set where you want to be picked up
3. Simply move that red pin to where you want to be picked up and hit the big green “Pick Me Up Here” button and voila – a car is now on the way.
4. In real-time, you can see the car moving towards you on the screen with a estimated time of arrival. If you want, you can also call the driver from within the application.
The important takeaways here are is: 1) It’s simple & 2) It works.
Unlike application development for the desktop, it’s no longer about features and options. It’s about simplicity in flow and focusing on solving the core problems for the user.
From a user perspective, when I pull out Uber:
1. I need to get somewhere that I can’t walk
2. I want to leave as soon as possible
3. I want accountability to know for certain that someone is coming to get me
The UberCab application solves these problems without offering me any options. Could they have built the application to enable me to choose different types of cars or pick a particular driver? Or included the other features that Taxi Magic has in their application? Absolutely – but users don’t need that – they just want a product that works.
In the short-term, the next big wave of mobile applications are going to focus on solving the two or three core problems for their users – and then deciding the rest for them. Ubercab, Instagram, & Pandora are all early examples of mobile applications that get it.
In the long-term, this trend is going to be even more important – users no longer want a product – they want a solution for their problem. And they want it to just work.
If the most recent wave of innovation was based on social recommendation – the next wave is going to be focused on actionable insight (aka discovery.) Learning from my friends was easier than searching on Google (and way better than using the Yahoo Directory) – but why don’t you just tell me what to do?
Think about some of the most explosive recent trends in the market:
1. Groupon (or any of the flash deal sites)
4. Angry Birds
Groupon grew not because of their deals – it grew because it made the decision for me about what I was doing this weekend. Quora is interesting as a platform – but more interesting because I can simply ask questions about Netflix and get the CEO of the company to answer me without any extra effort. And Kik exploded in growth because when I log-in to the application – it shows me all of my friends – I don’t even have to think about it.
So in short – if you’re designing a new application – think – what problem am I solving for my users? Then solve for that problem in the shortest number of steps possible.
Your users will thank you.
** Edited to change UberCab to just its new name of Uber **