COMPANY: The AA | INDUSTRY: Motoring & Travel | PLATFORM: App
I was the lead UX designer and responsible for the experience strategy and design of the iOS and Android app of the The AA’s traffic news and route planning service.
I lead the UX work, producing all major design deliverables and presenting these to stakeholders between August 2014 and February 2015.
I partnered with two project managers and to uncover insights and translate concepts into features that address customer behaviours and motivations.
I created frameworks and prototypes to share the vision, design principles and content strategy. This helped to evangelise ideas, gain alignment and drive decision making.
I defined the product with my project manager partners. I evangelised customer goals and balanced business goals. I prioritised and negotiated features for launch and beyond.
I designed across and collaborated with seven platform designers and their PM partners to translate product features for each platform context.
I designed down on Android and IOS. I executed journeys, wireframes, prototypes and design specs.
I designed up and presented works to gain buy‐in from executives, senior stakeholders and many other Amazon teams throughout the project lifecycle.
The online manager had a clear vision for The AA app strategy from the beginning. Fundamentally the business wanted to increase user engagement, registrations, increase self service, increase ad revenue and reduce operational demand.
The Geo Services app market was already flooded with big players such as Google, Waze, TomTom and Citymapper. Where would The AA fit in and how would we rank above them all?.
The AA or Automobile Association was founded in 1905 as a champion for motorists. It developed and expanded as a break down service, hotel and restaurant guide, traffic news service, travel guide and insurance provider.
It’s one of the most trusted brands in the UK and Ireland for motorists; publishing millions of guide books and maps a year. The company had kept with the pace of technology launching its online route planning service in 2007, however with growing competition the organisation had to accelerate its digital transformation and switch its focus to service design.
To coincide with a TV campaign scheduled to go live in 2 months, our team was under pressure to design and build a feature in the app for both IOS and Android which would appear in the TV spot.
The combination of a fixed deadline, app store submission time, security testing, and usability testing meant I needed to get the experience right in the first four weeks.
Before the actual legwork started, we partnered up with an innovations agency for a three day brainstorming session. The aim was not only to come up with a list of desired functionality and requirements, but to discuss how we could better serve AA customers through the App.
Supported with research and analytical data, the discussion was around insights and potential solutions to defined problems.
We discussed how that the concept of ’commuting’ represented something different to users. How their needs and motivations for commuting differed, hinting at different requirements.
Drawing a experience mapping to visualise and communicate the user's end‐to‐end experience across various touch‐points on their commute.
After the two day session we were all in agreement regarding the core use case at hand: Delivering the right information, at the right time in a delightful way.
Once the rough feature sets were decided, the team held a formal kickoff. From there, brainstorming sessions were replaced by focused daily stand-ups that involved only people essential to the work being done.
As well as the innovations sessions we conducted customer and market research to drive our planning phase. These are the key insights that helped with our launch milestones.
Motorists want the fastest and hassle free route to their destination
Empowering users with knowledge makes for better journeys
Help me reduce on my motoring costs so I can spend it on what I love
As a brand I trust, I look to you for recommendations outside of motoring
I like surprises, and rewards keep me engaged and loyal
When I'm in trouble and need help, I want it it quickly and without any fuss
To differentiate ourselves in an already mature and competitive market, we needed to define a desirable role for the app and how it would meet the needs of the ‘commuter’, to create something more meaningful.
It was agreed that the ‘Rescue Me’ feature of the app would be built first and featured in the TV spot. We had a kickoff session with a sprint planning meeting involving a card sorting exercise.
From the planning meeting, we moved into daily scrum meetings. Each morning for about 30 minutes, the team gathered together to report any issues or progress on their tasks.
Every two weeks we held sprint review meeting where the Product Owner, Scrum Master and stakeholders were present to review the product and suggest changes or improvements.
Retrospective and refinement meetings allowed the team to speak openly about their organisational concerns and teamwork.
Because of time pressure, I worked rapidly often jumping straight from sketching to prototyping. Once our stakeholders approved the content and functionality to roll‐out in the app, I could start to structure that content.
I began to think about particular usage contexts, the opportunities they present and how elements manifesting themselves in the interface would help to support the user.
I chose Proto.io for the click through functions and Principle to communicate the app's interactions and transitions. The transitions in the app were chosen to strike a balance between reinforcing context and creating an engaging and compelling interface.
The upcoming AA app has loads of smart features that make travelling easier. Shorter trips or long-distance journeys, you’ll find the info you need to get there safer and faster. Roadwatch, Route Planner and Member Support – now they’re all in one place, right in your pocket and better than ever.
View real-time reports about problems affecting your commute
Find the best route to your destination with traffic flow information and verified AA Roadwatch traffic reports.
Save your favourite places and and common routes so that their just a tap away.
AA Members can tap and track our breakdown assistance service via the app.
Never miss those important dates such as MOT appointments or Tax and Insurance renewal dates
Unlock special offers and exclusive content
Intuitive, communicate visually through color iconography Considered design, daylight, high contrast
The main dashboard screen has been designed to allow users quick access to primary functions of the application. The size of the icons make tapping easier, the order of the icons are based on ease of reach and the layout was chosen to provide a way for the design to scale for future releases
Sticking close to convention …. Primarily designed to support people on-the-go, users can depend on their prior experience with Google Maps and existing iOS design conventions to help them learn to use the app.
The interface design strives to be confident. It does not contain UI‐bling or unnecessary elements. We opted for clear, readable typography —choosing colours with high contrast to increase legibility in outdoor, low‑light conditions. The design is uncluttered, clean, large and well spaced. All our design decisions help to exude a sense of confidence in the design.
I also experimented and came up with complementary documentation to communicate animation and timing keyframes for our micro‐interactions.
I used the mid-fi flows as the intermediary stage of internal testing before hi-fi prototyping and testing with users. Consisting of 5-10 coworkers outside of the product team.
We did a sort of gorilla testing with walk in customer to our branch and partnered with our patrol guys attending to breakdown situations.
Overall the usability testing revealed the design worked well. While most users found the “rescue me” functionality intuitive many felt the fault type question sets overwhelming and were insecure in their ability to define the fault type.
After further investigation and consultation with the rescue centre manager we were able to whittle down the fault type question further which scored better in 2nd round of user testing.
Another finding was that users found the progress indicators to their rescue request weak. They felt unsure if a rescue patrol was deployed, enroute or when they would arrive.
My original idea was an Uber style model, but that was seen as advantageous especially for the timeline given. However this was to be rolled out over the next phases.
While I can’t dive into all the numbers, I can reveal the following post-launch business results:
Increase in downloads of The AA app
Increased engagement and sign-ups to myAA
Increased rescue requests via the app
Reduction in calls to the rescue call centre
Don’t get overambitious on redesign projects. The new design needs to feel consistent enough for old users while also appealing to new users. To achieve this delicate balance, keep everything as simple as possible.
For the sake of efficiency, going straight from sketches to user flows and hi-fi prototyping is fine as long as you test thoroughly. For an existing product, hi-fi prototypes carry less risk since visual design standards are already validated.
On a compressed timeline, I found it better to work one sprint ahead of developers
With detailed hi-fi prototypes and close collaboration, developers can implement changes in code with less risk of misinterpretation.