Carpooling to work is great in theory, but difficult in practice. Traditional carpooling relies on both the driver and the rider to have the same schedule and location in the morning and after work, making it inflexible, impractical and a major reason why commuters choose to sit in traffic and take their own vehicles, rather than consider carpooling as a realistic option.
The benefits of carpooling are huge: a reduction in traffic, gasoline wasted and greenhouse gas emissions. Plus riders have the ability to be productive during commute time, rather than wasting it focused on the road. While governments do a lot to encourage carpooling, from building carpool lanes to executing expensive public awareness campaigns, little is done to address the inconveniences of carpooling. Enter Hitchd.
Hitchd is a device and app combination that provides location-based carpool and ridesharing to commuters. Carpooling to work is great in theory, but difficult in practice. Traditional carpooling relies on both the driver and the rider to have the same schedule and location both in the morning and after work, making it inflexible, impractical and a major reason why commuters choose to sit in traffic and take their own vehicles, rather than considering carpooling as a realistic option.
Because Hitchd is a flexible, one-way commute platform, it solves many of the challenges preventing commuters from carpooling. Plus, this product is beneficial for both drivers and riders. Drivers earn credits which can be cashed in for rides or gas, and riders can either purchase or earn credits by driving. The platform provides the flexibility to hitch a spur-of-the-moment ride home when you’ve wrapped up your work for the day, or schedule your ride in advance if you know you need to be home at a certain time. The app is also integrated with social APIs so you can see if your driver or rider has connections in common, making both users feel safer and more connected.
Hitchd has two primary personas: A driver and a rider. While we assume most drivers will use Hitchd to ride, and vice versa, we wanted to identify the unique needs of each user to focus on delivering the best possible experience for each while developing the product.
Pat is a 29-year-old designer who lives in San Jose, California. He drives to work every day because public transportation isn’t a realistic option. His office isn’t close to the train station and if he took the bus, with transfer and traffic, it would take him 3 times as long as driving. He finds sitting in traffic alone frustrating, and looks at his 45-minute commute as lost time. Pat thinks that traditional ridesharing requires too much coordinating and carpooling isn’t an option because his coworkers don’t live near him, and his neighbors work different hours than he does. His goals are to get to work, and home from work, on time and safely, while saving money. Plus, since Pat’s an outgoing, adventurous type, he would love to meet new people along the way.
Jo is a 34-year-old Medical Office Manager who also lives in San Jose, California. She lives in the city and drives her hybrid car to and from work. Sometimes she coordinates rides with friends and neighbors, but she finds their schedules can be unreliable. She’s frustrated when she offers a friend a ride to work, and then has to wait around for them to finish up at the end of the day, when she could be at home reading. She likes the idea of carpooling to reduce her carbon footprint, but wants a safe and reliable way to meet those in need of a ride. Her goals are also to arrive at work on time and safely,
Hitchd was born after interviewing drivers and public transit commuters about their commute experiences. While we were initially focused on making commute time more efficient, we identified a recurring problem for drivers in cities lacking public transportation: Carpooling is great in theory, but too inflexible. Because carpooling relies on matching locations and timing on both ends of the commute, it’s often not seriously considered as a commute alternative.
Hitchd removes the interdependence of to-work and from-work commuting, allowing users to Hitch or schedule a ride when they need one. This eliminates the planning and coordination that makes carpooling unrealistic and provides a real, flexible option for commuters looking to save on gas, eliminate cars on the road, fight traffic and even reduce their carbon footprint.
Here’s what Hitchd users had to say about Hitchd, based on original users interviewed and user testing on UserTesting.com:
Hitchd is "very thorough” and “well thought out”
One user liked “the simplicity and the intuitive UI. Everything was self explanatory and to the point.”
Another user said Hitchd is “Clean, crisp, modern design and graphics. Easy to use interface.”
Mobile App: Hitchd is one mobile application that can be used by both drivers and riders interchangeably. Based on our primary persona, users might want to hitch a ride one day and give a ride the next. The mobile app allows users to find a ride, schedule a ride, or provide a ride to someone in need for maximum flexibility. API integrations with Facebook and LinkedIn allow users to see social connections in common with their drivers or riders, and Google Maps API integration provides seamless navigation to drivers to drop off their riders without distractions. User ratings and user stats also provide feedback and motivation for users to continue to use the product.
NFC 3D Device: Upon signup, drivers are sent a 3D NFC device that they adhere to their vehicles. In Hitchd’s effort to provide safe carpooling options, the device allows drivers peace of mind, knowing only their Hitchd match will be allowed entry to their vehicle. The NFC device recognizes the smartphone app of the correct rider and unlocks the vehicle only for that rider.
We relied on four main design principles to guide our development of Hitchd.
Other design principles came into play at each stage of the application’s development. For example, “If it’s worth it to the user to do it, it’s worth it to the application to remember it.” When users build their profiles, ride information defaults to home, office and distance deviation preference.
From a visual design standpoint, we applied Fitts’ Law when designing large, easy to press buttons. We also used confirmation to allow users to confirm their ride preference instead of automatically forcing them to ride with a match. During the signup process, the app employs wayfinding to indicate how far through the 4-step sign-up process users are. And finally, the Hitchd stats page relies on motivation and positive feedback to get users interested in continuing to carpool with Hitchd.
Hitchd capitalizes on connecting riders with drivers who are already on the road, unlike current rideshare options. And unlike ride-share boards, it’s algorithmic, requiring no work or coordination on the part of the drivers and riders to get Hitchd. Plus, Hitchd is mobile friendly and easy to access on the go. Hitchd also has an emphasis on safety: the additional security of the NFC device, plus ratings, social integration and safety contact alerts, allow you to feel safe and secure about your ride. Hitchd is fulfilling an unmet need, as identified by user research. Hitchd expands the market for ridesharing, while allowing the users to be in control of who they drive or ride with.