Ola Play was launched in November 2016 as world’s first connected car platform for ride sharing economy, with a vision of creating an entirely new, top notch, back-seat experience for customers during a commute. With numerous personalized features from music to videos to live tracking to games, Ola Play was all about making the journey a pleasant and engaging experience.
While the back-seat experience for passengers was served through a Consumer eXperience Console (CXC), a separate console termed the Driver eXperience Console (DXC), running the Ola Partner Mobile App for drivers, was installed at the front seat for them to perform their On-Duty activities seamlessly.
A car is a critical environment for the driver. The environment while driving a car is very different from any home or office or any other everyday space. Any distraction while driving a car could have serious implications on the driver and the vehicle. On this fundamental note, we at Ola Play keep our driver and passenger safety at the core of our values.
A mobile app scaled to the Driver eXperience Console (DXC) didn’t really serve our purpose as studies conducted across multiple cities of India reflected that the DXC was quite difficult to use while driving and didn’t add much value; hence the drivers preferred using mobile devices for performing their daily activities. Naturally, a digital interface for a person driving a car requires more emphasis on content and interactions which complement his/her driving experience and minimize distractions.
The DXC, powered by Qualcomm, had a tabular screen size of 7 inches, with a medium resolution of 1024x600, placed at a distance of 2 feet from the driver. A predefined physical product certainly added some usability and ergonomic constraints to the UX challenges of designing the DXC interface. Various studies were conducted with drivers around the usability of drive modes of Android Auto and Apple Car Play, the market leaders in this space. Meanwhile, a lot of features based on nearby Point of Interests like finding public toilets, free parking space, food outlets, fuel stations, service centres, were introduced in the DXC. With more third party integrations pipelined by business, there was an ever evolving need to redesign the DXC interface to increase driver engagement and inhibit the intervention of their personal mobile devices.
On further field research and strategic discussions, we realized the need for a Design System for the DXC. A defined set of guiding principles which would, going forward, fulfil the purpose of the product and also empower our driver partners to seamlessly shift from his personal device to the DXC for performing their daily chores and On-Duty activities while driving.
With one eye of these constraints and understanding the principles of Automotive UX, Glanceable Design and Inclusive Design, we defined new design guidelines for the DXC to complement and augment the driving experience of millions of our driver partners. Besides meeting the basic needs for an in-car console design, we had to go a step ahead and design a first of its kind On-Duty Drive Mode version, an integral aspect of Ola Play DXC, which makes this in-car console much more than just a personalized device.
While interacting with driver partners across cities, we tried to understand the most repetitive problems they face related to the DXC hardware and software, and accordingly address them in our new designs. They highlighted concerns in the DXC around navigation, calling while driving, media access, customer communication, vehicle diagnostics, etc. which we tried to address in the design phase.
The final field research report on Ola Play is a confidential property of the organization Ola Cabs (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd.) and hence I am unable to share further details on this platform. For more details on the research methodologies, samples and outcomes feel free to reach out to me for any discussion.
The design phase started with the definition of a Navigation Framework for DXC. We undertook a card sorting activity followed by a tree test to understand the right needs for a driver from a bucket of curated navigation options. Much before defining a Design System, when we were defining the framework, we undertook an iterative method whereby we wireframed, mockedup, and prototyped a certain navigation flow, did a usability study with the drivers, analyzed their inputs and designed a new flow. We refined and finalized our navigation framework after 15 rounds of thorough iterative studies.
Once a navigation framework was in place, we started defining our Global Controls, Custom Maps, Notification Priorities, Duty Flows, UX Flows, App UI Elements, Typography, Iconography, Motion, Branding, as we gradually moved towards defining the UX and Visual guidelines for the product. The Design System had a definition for the following components:
The final designs of DXC 3.0 and details of the Design System are still of confidential nature and hence I'm unable to share more details on this platform. However, feel free to reach out to me for knowing about the various design decisions, why and hows, duty flows, new features, a complete overview of the designs or any discussions on the same.