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The BMW i sub-brand stands for state-of-the-art electric cars and even more for sustainable mobility concepts. Launched services are intelligently linked to promote urban mobility – both with and without automobiles. BMW i Ventures – the BMW owned venture capital firm supports many such services, which are build and tested locally before they are made public to a wider audience on national and international level.
Commissioned by KKLD*, I was working on several individual projects covering services such as DriveNow and ParkNow – both identifying core topics of modern urban mobility.
DriveNow is a premium car-sharing project developed by BMW i, MINI and Sixt available in five German major cities and San Francisco. Prior its launch in June 2011, I was part of the team designing core brand elements and was leading the design of the service’s online channels.
Core elements of the DriveNow brand appearance.
One of the more challenging design tasks during the course of the project was maintaining consistency across available channels. Consistent styling, behavior and look-and-feel was paramount to the success of the service and keeping the fundamental functionality and navigation consistent, helped users to easily switch between channels and devices according to their needs.
First version of the DriveNow website that launched back in 2011.
ParkNow lets drivers in and around San Francisco find and book parking spots in advance, online or with the mobile app. The service not only simplifies the often frustrating task of parking, it also offers added bonuses like discounted parking rates, valet service or Car wash.
As a follow-up to the already launched Car-sharing offering, ParkNow was aiming to seamlessly integrate into the growing ecosystem of BMW i’s mobility services. Goals and objectives where similar, but the setup much different. This was largely because of the fact, that the pilot was launching in San Francisco instead of a major city in Germany.
San Franciscos Bay Area is one of the most expensive regions for housing in the U.S. and parking is one of the main issues people are facing. Keeping local conditions in mind and being aware of deviant mindsets in overseas was challenging, but even more was the project setup with teams spread across multiple time zones and continents. As lead designer in charge for mobile app and online channel, one of the main tasks (besides actually designing) was dealing with the vast amount of requirements while managing the quite different expectations of all stakeholders involved.
Main use-case on mobile devices: Searching and booking parking spots on the go.
User experience and interface design where following the same principles of simplicity and ease of use, while paying close attention to different use cases in mobile and desktop contexts. Being aware of different user needs in varying usage scenarios helped tremendously to shape a set of smart tools and useful features for booking your parking spot on the go or from your home or office.
Online use cases: again focus on searching and booking, but extended by administrative handling of reservations and account.
Both services have evolved considerably since their initial launch in 2011 & 2012 and most of their success is based on the simple fact, that they are targeting two of the fundamental problems of urban mobility.
The key insight emerging from this project, is that inconsistency not only causes confusion, but can lead to incorrect choices, incomplete responses and and an overall frustrating user experience. Designing for consistency across multiple channels has a significant impact on the success of a service and can only be achieved through extensive testing and continuous iteration.