Monday, March 28, 2016

Usability Evaluation: Uber

By Rawan Bahmid

As most people know, Uber provides a enhanced form of taxi service for which anyone can be a driver. It provides private transportation options in such a way that benefits both consumers and drivers. The company uses multiple media to deliver its services [2].

We evaluated its consumer mobile application to asses its learnability, simplicity and discoverability. The evaluation was been performed on the Uber Android application version 3.93.4, which was the latest available version for Android 5.1.1 when the evaluation started. Two evaluation techniques were used, heuristic evaluation using Nielsen’s 1990 [1] principles and cognitive walkthrough.

The evaluation covered three important tasks, to determine the usability problems and difficulties that might face a user, to provide some solutions, and ultimately to improve the user’s experience.

Task 1: Request Uber
This feature allows the user to choose the car size, get the estimated fare and order a car.

Success scenario:
  1.  Enter pickup location
  2. Choose UberX or UberXL
  3. Check car capacity
  4. Enter destination
  6. Request Uber
  7. Choose payment method
  8. Enter promo code (if any)
  9. Confirm the request
Failure scenario and recommendations:

Step 3, 4 & 5
Problem 1: the choices are hidden in the bottom of the page, one has to scroll down to find it, however, there is no sign or clue to scroll down. See Figure 1.
Figure 1 Request Uber: Hidden options

Issues of hidden options in Step 3, 4 & 5 could be solved by making clear to the user that there are more useful options in the bottom of the page. It would be better if the maximum car capacity of people is shown graphically. And if more expressive display of a currency sign is shown beside the text GET FARE ESTIMATE.

Step 6
Problem 2: The term SET PICKUP LOCATION is ambiguous and confuses the users. Should they enter the the pickup location again which means the first entering was not successful. But the address is in the PICKUP LOCATION field!! Or Is the entered location not correct? Or it might be for confirming the entered location.

Problem 3: In some times and places there are no available Uber cars. However, the user can request a car and keep waiting for a request that would never be confirmed. check Figure 2.
  Figure 2 Request Uber: No available car

Problem 4: In rush hours and when there is a lack of the available cars, a message would show that there will be a surge pricing. User could choose NOTIFY ME IF SURGE ENDS. However, user will not receive any kind of notifications even when the surge ends, see Figure 3.

Figure 3 Request Uber: Surge pricing

A clearer and meaningful term should be used such as “REQUEST Uber” or “REQUEST CAR”. Moreover, restrict the car requisitions to be used and activated only when cars are available. And provide feedback or message to the user explain the situation. Enhance the notification system as well.

Step 8
Problem 5: The option seems to be inactive because it is gray and users might think it is restricted and can not be used, see Figure 4.
           Figure 4 Request Uber: Promo code

Better to colour the outline of the text to show that it is active. And fill the text with a colour when a promo code is being used.

Problem 6: The cars’ slider may confuse users; they might use to enter the addresses because its like a path form a place to a place. They would first enter the Pickup location, move the car to the next point and enter the destination.

This could be solved by having radio button to chose the preferable car instead of the slider. Check Figure 5.
                       Figure 5 Request  Uber: Redesign

Problem 7: Beside all the analyzed issues, the application only supports portrait orientation. It does not allow page rotation, which is helpful when following the car’s movement. 

Task 2: Cancel a request
A car request can be canceled before and after the completion of the request. Scenario 1 illustrates the process of the cancelation before the request is being completed. Whereas scenario 2 states the situation of cancelation when the request has been completed.
Success scenario 1:
  1. Hold X button to cancel 
Failure scenario 1 and recommendations:

Step 1
Problem 8: The progress of the cancelation request is shown to the user, but it is not confirmed when completed. After cancelation the confirmation of car request page appears, which confuses the user as to whether or not the cancelation has been done.

To avoid this confusion, provide  descriptive feedback that states that the request has been successfully canceled. 

Success scenario 2:
  1.  Tap on CANCEL
  2. Confirm cancelation

Failure scenario 2 and recommendations:

Step 1
Problem 9: The CANCEL option is hidden. User has to scroll down to find it. However, there is no clue that there are some available options further down the page. See Figure 6.

Figure 6 Request Uber: Hidden CANCEL

Step 2
Problem 10: No feedback is provided when the request is canceled. Therefore, user has to go to the History page to make sure that the request has been canceled.

To allow users to use this feature correctly, make the CANCEL button visible and accessible by giving signal in the page that there are options when scrolling down. Moreover, make sure to provide useful descriptive feedback when the cancelation process is completed successfully.  

Task 3: Add an address to Places
This feature allows user to add their common to visit places to a list. Hence, they just type the shortcut in the destination field when want going there, instated of entering the full address.

Success scenario:
  1. Main menu
  2. Tap Settings
  3. Tap Add HOME or Add WORK
  4. Enter destination

Failure scenario and recommendations:

Step 3
Problem 11: The list is very limited, only two addresses could be added to it. Moreover, names of the places can not be changed. This is not expressive when adding, for instance, the address of the university under the name HOME and will require the user to remember each name is for what address. Check Figure 7.

          Figure 7 Add Places

Step 4
Problem 12: When the address is correctly added to the list, no feedback is shown to the user.
To make this feature more useful, allow the user to enter as many address as they need and name them based on their preferences. Furthermore, provide feedback when the entered address has been added to the list. Figure 8 states a recommended redesign of the PLACES.

Figure 8 Add Places: Redesign

Form the analysis we can conclude that the issues of the application are because of the invisible functions, limited options and the structural mistakes. 

  1. Nielsen, J. & Molich, R. (1990). Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '90), Jane Carrasco Chew and John Whiteside (Eds.). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 249-256.
  2. Uber (company). Wikipedia. Retrieved 20 March, 2016, from

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