Designed the new driver app from the ground up. Small team, challenging goals and huge impact. A product that is very close to my heart. What a ride!
Product Design & Research
From early 2018 to mid 2019
Android mostly, some web
This article goes through my story with iFood. I also have two detailed articles going through two specific features I've worked on that I'm very proud of. Don't forget to peek at those!
The experience I had working at iFood is one of those I can call special. The company was in a very weird place back then, very different from nowadays. The team was not huge, but not small as well. And then, there was the Logistics Tribe, which was responsible for creating the foundation of the newest business vertical aimed at increasing the number of deliveries done by proper iFood's fleet and not somebody else's - like it used to be.
I got there as what I might call 'one of the founding members' of the Logistic Tribe. And I guess it is rightful to call it that way because it was almost like a startup inside a startup. It was a very small team, with huge goals set upon us so we could prove that it was worth it setting up all this stuff. Among all the tech involved in creating a logistics operation, the Driver App is one of the most important applications.
This is what I'd call a messy startup office. There's a beauty to it.
When I joined, there was already a version of the Driver App. But a very raw one. The developers who were first in the team deployed a simple front end, with no usability thought whatsoever, simply to interact with the state machines running in the back end of the system. Meanwhile, the fleet grew steadily. To go with it, the app gained a few features here and there and naturally, that started to get messy and problems around the experience became more and more relevant.
But, in the first months, the team and I were not focusing too much on upgrading the app. There were so many other foundational decisions we had to make to have a proper business and experience functioning. It even took a while to gather a proper team to take care of the app. Meanwhile, I had never stopped doodling around with dreamlike concepts of the product. This no strings attached process was essential to set space for lots of studying. I learned so much about the logistics, food delivery and gig economy industry by that time. With extensive benchmark and focus, I started to get ready to set up a real proposition for how we could set the Driver App as a more robust, thoughtful and experience-driven product.
Up there you see the UI design that the team created in the early days of operation. The cool thing is, this was pretty much the whole product, in a nutshell. There is, if you look closer, gold in there. Like the Settings page, in the far right, with only a "log out" button. If you do not find this very minimalistic, there's something up with you.
The only spice I gave to this by that time was the hat motorcycle logo. And that's the logo for the app to this day. :)
You must be tired of reading designers redesigning stuff. But sometimes, it is worth it and actually needed. I'm proud to tell you it was one of those times. Our Logistics Tribe had grown a lot in a few months of operation. And the app that was supporting all this was lacking a lot in terms of experience. The fleet also grew a whole bunch, so drivers became more present in our day to day. I, in particular, spent a good amount of months talking to them here and there to learn more about their work and needs. That, alongside the studies of the early days, gave me proper confidence to reach for a redesign as a main Tribe business goal at the last cycle of 2018.
This was because the problem at hand was transforming the DriverApp into something desirable, by the fleet. Not only something needed to put together a Logistics operation. But something delightful and useful in the drivers' lives.
iFood had just got the biggest series of investments yet and a good amount went for the Logistics Tribe. By then, we were now a small lovely official team around the app, composed of myself as a sole designer, a Product Manager, 2 Android developers and 2 Backend developers. The goal we set up for ourselves was to launch a brand new driver experience in 2 months. Parallel to that, we had to support the ongoing and growing operation. So, as you'd imagine, it was a rough challenge.
One of the biggest takeaways here was that we had buy-in from all iFood's leadership to set the "driver experience" as our main KPI for the quarter. We sold a vision of how the product could be better entirely focused on the drivers' actual needs and it went all great. My iterations by then needed to be transformed into actual product strategy.
Lots of sketches. It got up to a point that a 16gb ram Macbook Pro couldn't handle the Sketch file.
Iterations gave us a huge horizon of things we'd like to work on. But with limited time and having to support a growing operation, we focused a lot on the basics. It was a deep research process into what were basic operations and features the driver and the system needed to have in order to maintain the plane flying... but more smoothly and higher.
In order to that, we talked a lot to drivers. We'd go out in the wild to talk to them, constantly. And it was the best thing ever. Only then we started to notice what was needed, must have things and what stuff could be done in future calmer times. This was groundwork as well for an Android architecture redesign. So we were hand in hand, design and development, rewriting stuff so we could start right, knowing every bit of the system ourselves.
This is legit proof I'm a real designer. I call post-its my strategy.
Spoiler: I ended up working at Loggi too. The world spins!
Even before launching the first version of the new experience, we already had a great roadmap structured ahead of us. The studies and knowledge acquired in the early days up to the point of actually having something to beta test out were key to understating strategy in a broader sense in regards to our product context. The relationship we had created within our team, of true companionship, was essential to collaborating and having a batter shaped work. I learned a lot about how design and PM should relate. And by that, I mean: always and forever. Designers and Product Managers are two sides of the same coin and they must stay together. And that was so beneficial to our product and process. And not only, but development should also be talking strategy, roadmap and experience too. There is so much to gain from having all disciplines talking about everything.
And of course, setting the "driver experience" or "user" experience as the main objective of a team is indeed challenging. Especially because measuring such things is very difficult. So we had to set up a lot of ways to understand if drivers were happier. And by that I mean, lots of research. There were times where we'd go full-on methods and times where we simply talked to them, no brainer. The important lesson was to never stop talking. Always being close by, reachable. And because of all that, I believe that we were very successful, launching a product that got metrics a lot up, drivers happier and the management of our system more in place.
Inside the designs
We introduced a well-established UI pattern using the bottom navigation, where we'd display the foundational environments of the app when the driver wasn't on the route. The home, or the driver cockpit, as we'd call it sometimes, was where drivers would land most frequently, checking their performances, checking the map out for surge pricing, setting themselves on or off of work, and changing vehicles by which they'd be making deliveries.
This undoubtedly was the core flow of the product, so we put lots of effort into making a worthy offer UI, providing essential information for whether accept or not a route offer. When onto some delivery, the driver needed to provide check-ins and check-outs of the waypoints. We designed a miss-click-free interaction for this structural action.
The driver app was filled with screens and communication. It was a simple yet complex product. In the background, lots of stuff were running to secure a safe delivery, free of fraud and at the same time, easily explained to new-comers. We had a whole bunch of new drivers popping in week over week. Our main goal was to make the most auto-explanatory possible. Everything you needed to know as a driver would be easily accessed within the app experience.
A needed warning is that it is hard to say these results were only the product of my team's work-force. There were times that several teams would run with different tactics towards the same goal. But I can pinpoint some of the results I gathered in two main categories: measurables and non-measurables.
This can seem too little but it is a huge improvement. Drivers heavily use the Play Store as a channel for complaints. To get this score increasing, complaints needed to be down, and praises needed to be more frequent. And we did it in a very short time-frame. It was after 3 months of the new app launch that we saw these figures increase.
The onboarding flow we designed cleared the way for this to happen. The numbers are forever growing, and I'm sure it is way higher than that by now. But again, we noticed this increase in little time. Simple and effective onboarding flow, driver wise, operation wise, made this possible.
A main signal of the Logistics tribe success was how much share it had in comparison to the main market place model. That bump was another natural reflection of a growing fleet, amplified and more delightful experience to drivers.
We became verified references company-wide when it came down to drivers. We got to know them and the Logistics operation as a whole down to each detail. That built a lot of trust and confidence in our work. We also became more assertive when it came to launching product features.
Frequently, we would mobilize a lot of teams to align and launch stuff. I think we here successful in engaging different teams, with different contexts and goals, to reach a certain outcome, focused on the driver.
Cool event iFood threw for Drivers back in October 2018. We had Emicida writing a custom song for this PR. Memorable day. Took this tight pic :)
The crew in parking lot hangs :)