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PUBLIC Bikes

The Ask : PUBLIC, a design-forward, environmentally-conscious bicycle brand, needed help selling electric bikes. PUBLIC’s website wasn’t converting visitors to bicyclists— let alone e-bike evangelists.   

Client: PUBLIC Bikes
Role : UX Designer & Researcher

The Solution: By cutting through the text-heavy verbiage and adding video, we infused the site with a sense of  movement and fun. Additionally, we introduced a test ride widget to convert users to bike riders.

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What's the lay of the land?

 

PUBLIC e-bikes have a lot going for them: gorgeous vintage-inspired look infused with technology, a founder and leader in forward-thinking design, and an audience who embraces fitness and fancy toys. So what gives?  

User Interviews

Our research confirmed several points:

・People didn’t understand what an e-bike actually was and how it empowered people to move and exercise in a whole new way.
・There was confusion surrounding the brand itself. The name “Public” led many people to assume the company specialized in bike rentals.
・We knew who our audience was not. (Hello, fixxie aficionados!)
・We had an idea of who our audience actually was, but this meant we needed to validate our hypothesis. 

Competitive Analysis : A Competetive Evaluation allowed us to quickly assess where PUBLIC was succeeding, and falling short.

User Surveys : We sent out a survey to a pool of 50+ recipients. The results were telling. Once educated on what PUBLIC brand e-bikes were, over half of the non-bicyclists said they were interested in learning more and would even consider purchasing an e-bike.

Next up, the fun stuff.

Contextual Inquiry : My partner, Alyssa, and I took the opportunity to spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon taking the bikes out for a spin. It’s worth mentioning that neither of us loves biking. Like, at all. That said, as soon as we took to our bikes, we had an amazing time. 

We traversed some of SF’s steepest hills with total ease. Experiencing all of the fun aspects of bike riding (speed, exercise, fresh air, movement) without feeling overwhelmed by the less-than-fun stuff (struggling to scale hills, carry heavy loads, all while navigating through traffic) was nothing short of a pure joy. Having that little bump of power provided by the pedal assist technology enhanced our overall experience tremendously. We could not wipe the smiles off our faces.

What's in a name?

Synthesis

Preliminary Personas : We assembled some rough personas, based on our insights.

Build it from the ground up.

Design

User Flows : We then put together some user flows, based on our personas. Below is Michelle’s.

Site Map : Building the information architecture allowed us to see the bare bones of the site. This vantage point enabled us to easily strip away anything extraneous or redundant, and to add any missing elements.

We paid extra attention to the top nav which had been littered with unnecessary and confusing pages. Of particular importance was the “Test Ride” page which we figured would be an essential part of moving users through the funnel — why would you plunk down $2K unless you can confirm the real-life awesomeness for yourself?

High fives to our lo-fi.

Wireframing : A few rough sketches allowed us to quickly get our ideas down before moving onto the next step.

Usability Testing : After a few iterations and rounds of design studios we were ready to test our product. We called on Jon, our friend and classmate to try out our lo-fi version. Any seasoned UX designer will advise you to never get overly attached to your design because the one thing you can count on is change.

Jon confirmed this. We realized that we had to implement a number of changes. Most importantly, our design had to feature some kind of reservation system. The ultimate goal, after all, was converting PUBLIC website visitors to PUBLIC e-bike riders. And based on what we knew, there is very little (if any) incentive to make the leap unless you’ve experienced the bike for yourself.

Also, the online experience needed some sense of “closure,” or finality. A reservation feature would be the proverbial “bow on top” of the newly fleshed out experience.

 

“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.” -James E. Starrs 

Solution

We came up with our final prototype, based on our research. Our key takeaways:
The website had to include MOVEMENT. The experience of bike riding is not static, after all. Shouldn’t the digital experience reflect that?