Not every digital project needs to serve a global audience. As our experience building a carpooling app for our local business center shows, developers and businesses can unearth creative solutions to local issues.
World Class Skills Versus Local Issues
The Olivia Business Center (OBC) is our home here in Gdansk. It offers us modern offices in a convenient location at the heart of the community.
It’s also the largest office park in northern Poland, with 150,000 square meters of office space serving over 8,500 people.
But as with many popular business centers, increasing traffic congestion at peak times began to inconvenience commuters with longer, more expensive journeys.
And with heavy traffic comes environmental damage.
OBC approached us to see if we could help them tackle these issues with technology.
Staff Augmentation Platform Architecture Product Redesign Development
The OBC already had a carpooling initiative underway, but their dedicated website was only receiving new users at a rate of 200 per year.
Our experience indicated that the number of commuters carpooling could be increased by developing a mobile application.
Consumers were already attuned to using apps for booking transport from their phones. Lyft and Uber are just two examples of mobile apps that have popularized arranging transport in this way.
We agreed that the convenience of booking ‘on-the-go’ through a mobile application rather than through a website could increase the appeal of carpooling to the OBC.
Travellers today often leave the planning of their journeys to the last minute, relying on their phones to get them where they need to go once they’re already on their way. As a result, a mobile application seemed the logical solution.
Maximizing Potential Users
To achieve the greatest possible impact, we wanted to do everything we could to maximize uptake. This meant:
- Building a teaser website to raise awareness of the upcoming app among potential users
- Developing two mobile applications, one for iOS and one for Android, to maximize the potential user base
- Developing English and Polish language versions, as the multinational community working at the OBC includes large numbers of people for whom English is their preferred language.
To have a popular carpooling app, we needed users to find it useful. For that, the app needed to allow them to easily find others to travel with. This led us to two functional requirements:
- A geolocation function to match drivers and riders travelling to and from the same areas
- A chat function, allowing users to communicate directly
Additionally, we developed a leaderboard allowing users to compete with each other to improve their ranking by collecting points from each commute.
Since this was an entirely new app, we also had to create all the standard features required from scratch, such as account creation and management, security, and peer-to-peer communication, as well as handling the UX/UI design.
How We Did It
From January to December 2018 we worked in sprints through an Agile based project management system, guiding each phase of the project towards completion while avoiding the time-intensive exercise of devising an over-elaborate, rigid project architecture.
This helped us stay flexible and responsive enough to handle new challenges as they arose, which inevitably happens on complex projects.
This approach enabled us to continue iterating while taking the time to thoroughly user-test each function, collect feedback and integrate the results into each new version.
We were able to avoid excessive delays by using React Native. This open-source framework created by Facebook for developing mobile applications allowed us to build the Android and iOS apps simultaneously.
Before Develocraft, the OBC’s carpooling initiative - which ran through a website - attracted 200 annual users. With the release of our carpooling app, Olivia Carpooling, that figure exploded to over 300 monthly users.
That’s an eighteen-fold increase in users.
After user feedback, we were able to further improve the app which now has a 4.0 rating on the App Store.
With this app we introduced a new mode of transport to the city, with the potential to further expand its reach to other destinations.
Increase in Online Carpoolers
Consider your end user’s characteristics to better serve them, boost user retention, and increase uptake. Since a large segment of our users speak little Polish but are confident English speakers, we included both language options
Consider strategies to raise awareness before you launch. Our teaser website helped us reach users even before the app was ready
Instead of spending months carefully constructing an overcomplicated project management plan, keep the overall objective in mind while only focusing on the details when they become relevant. Doing this keeps our projects moving forward