You don’t hear the word “ergonomics” used that much outside of talking about comfy chairs or better-for-you computer mice.
But when Lyft, the ride-hailing app, decided to do a redesign, ergonomics and transparency were at the forefront.
“We think in the transition of transportation as a service, choice matters more. We want to make choice clear, and for the trade-offs to be obvious,” Lyft’s VP of Product Tali Rapaport told Business Insider.
The team spent almost a year and 400 hours of research to make sure its new app offered the most choices, but in a way that was easier to understand than its competitor.
Not to mention, the whole thing is designed to be ergonomic friendly so you can access all the options with only one hand.
Here are all the tiny tweaks Lyft made to entice new customers to use their app instead of Uber’s:
This is what the Lyft app looked like until today. The options to choose between Line, Lyft, and Plus are at the top of the screen. At the bottom is your payment method, your pick-up location, and the giant 'Request Lyft' button. In light grey text, you can also find the time estimate. Meanwhile, the black cars move around the screen indicating where Lyfts are driving around you.
The new Lyft homepage blows out the map so it takes up the whole screen while moving all the important information to the bottom.
A major theme of the project was transparency, so each Lyft mode is shown when you open the app, along with what the mode means, whether it has Prime Time pricing, and how far away a car is.
The team spent 400 hours of research, much of it with first-time users, to make sure they could understand the different Lyft options from the second they open the screen. Uber, in comparison, still makes you swipe through each one individually to get the time estimate and the definition of what and UberPool, UberX, and Uber is.
The one thing you don't get from the home screen is the difference in pricing.
Apple and the trend toward larger phone screens may have forced Lyft's hand in some of redesign thinking.
As phone screens get larger and vary in size, having vital information at both the top and bottom of the screen made using Lyft's app harder to use.
The design team instead pushed all of the important decision making to the bottom, where you can see what type of ride you've selected and the pick-up address. The only information left at the top of the screen is your account information button (the tiny circular photo of you on the top left).
'It's ridiculous how we've gotten as a society that we're talking about reaching as a problem,' said John Zimmer, president of Lyft. 'One-handed app design is just better design.'
Only once you choose what type of ride you want, then the price estimator kicks in.
The new 'Request' screen -- shown here for ordering a Lyft Line, its carpooling version -- shows the payment type and the fixed price in advance. Since this is a Line, I do have to to put my destination in the app before I can request my ride.
If you're calling a Lyft or Lyft Plus, it's supposed to be more like taxi experience where you can get in and tell you're driver where you are going.
But, if you want to know the price, riders have to put in their destination on the request screen before they can hit the price estimate button if using these two modes.
I asked the design team at Lyft why it wouldn't be easier to just make everyone type in their destination on the home screen so we could see both time estimate and price estimate.
It turns out, as head of design Frank Yoo told me, in A/B testing people didn't like having all of that information up front. It turned into too many decisions and trade-offs.
Instead, they focused on the time estimate since that requires the least amount of information from the user.
It will eventually be easy to swipe between the options once you've added your destination, toggling to see if it only costs $2 more to take a Lyft by yourself rather than sharing a Lyft Line, but that's coming later down the road, said John Zimmer, president and co-founder of Lyft.
While you're requesting your ride, the cancel ride option is now obvious in case you hit the button too soon or realised your drop off location is in the wrong place. The two pin buttons on the map are different colours to match up with the stages: the dark blue is the pick-up location whereas the pink is the drop-off colour that matches the request screen. As you're requesting a ride, the 'contacting' bar also glows from the dark blue to the bright pink.
Meanwhile, on the map, the tiny Lyft cars now face directionally, so you can tell if a car is headed towards you or going the opposite way on the interstate just on first glance.
Here's what it's like if you're taking a Lyft Line, although this screen looks similar even if you're calling a regular Lyft.
To keep one-handed accessibility in mind, all of the actions are still on the bottom of the screen. It's easy to contact the driver, split the fare, send your ETA to someone, or still cancel if you need to.
Since the cars are directional, I can tell my driver is headed the wrong way so he'll have to double-back to pick me up. Hence, there's a six-minute time estimate before he'll be able to pick me up or I can just watch as he approaches on the screen.
When you're matched with a ride, the car on the screen will change colours to match the car's colour that will be picking you up.
Also on the screen once you're matched is the driver's photo, name, and rating, plus more details about their car like the make and model. Plus, the licence plate number is now easy to see without requiring additional clicks.
It's a safety priority to have that information displayed from the moment the ride is accepted, so you can make sure you're getting in the right car with the right driver, said Zimmer.
Small tweaks like changing the colour of the car to match help riders find their Lyft.
Lyft didn't want calling the ride to be the end of the experience.
Now in the app, you can watch as your car approaches your destination. If you're in a Line, like I took, it will tell you who is being dropped off first. Once you're in the ride, you still have the same contact, split, and send ETA options, although the cancel button is no longer an option for obvious reasons.
It doesn't give your ETA to destination on screen, a feature I found annoying, but it does tell me that I will 'arrive soon'.
Overall, the new redesign is supposed to move the company away from the fuzzy mustache feeling of its earlier days and into a simpler app that's better for riders.
Whether you call it ergonomics or accessibility, the design tweaks Lyft made to put all of the interaction at the bottom of the screen was a noticeable difference. For newcomers to Lyft, having the definition of what a Line is versus a Lyft Plus will make it easier to choose the right option -- and hopefully cut down on the number of times someone orders a Lyft Line with a group of four people.