Pioneering Non-UX

Designing for Those Who Don’t Use Your Product

When it comes to the experience of a product or service, the users are the focus. Do they find the product intuitive? Are they utilizing all of the features? How frequently are they returning or purchasing?

However, there are some instances when companies also need to focus on the experience of the non-users. These situations are usually due to products that interact with the general public. As an example, there are many who dislike the loud exhausts of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Without disregarding a signature trademark of its brand, Harley-Davidson should concentrate on how high the decibel level of their motorcycles should be when they leave the factory. There are laws that regulate how loud the bikes can be when they are purchased, but plenty of riders modify their motorcycles on their own. If this causes a large enough problem, the general public won’t have a problem with individual owners; they will go after the manufacturer. With a situation like this, it might be in Harley-Davidson’s best interest to intentionally lower the decibel level with the initial design to mitigate some of the issues after modification.

Within the tech landscape of San Francisco, there is a company that recently launched its service and must also design for those who don’t use the product. Leap has launched a Muni alternative in San Francisco and it is being met with mixed reviews. People who are excited by the service envision more reliable busses with space to work on their laptops and order a coffee. Those who react negatively see yet another example highlighting the great chasm between the “haves” and the “have nots.”

Leap has created an experience that solves multiple needs for urban commuters. Simultaneously, the startup has been mindful of the implications of particular decisions for those who don’t use the service but may be affected by it.

Leap User Experience

Leap has focused on key elements of rider experience to set the service apart from public transportation options and other startups currently addressing the same need.

Targeted Pick-Up & Drop-Off Locations

Rather than have a multitude of stops that prolong the commute, Leap busses will focus on locations that will attract a critical mass.

Digital Check-In Via Phone

Since fewer and fewer people carry regular amounts of cash and the best alternative for public transportation in San Francisco is the Clipper Card, Leap riders will purchase tickets digitally and scan them on the bus via QR codes.

Clean & Comfortable Environment

Anyone who has been a passenger on public transportation in the Bay Area has seen first hand the aged condition of the trains and busses. Beyond that, it isn’t difficult to find blogs dedicated to bizarre activities witnessed on the vehicles. There are obviously people who would pay a small premium for a more desirable environment to spend a significant portion of their days.

Snacks & Amenities

Whether riders need to start their day with some Blue Bottle Coffee or grab a snack on the way home, Leap provides snacks and drinks on the bus while wifi allows for a productive commute at a comfortable counter.

Leap Non-User Experience

There are plenty of people in San Francisco that rage against the tech environment that defines much of the city. They have targeted the employee busses for their protests which usually draw attention to outrageous situations pertaining to rent and living situations. Clearly, a company such as Leap needs to address the concerns of those who don’t use the service while simultaneously designing for those who do.

Independent Bus Stops

Both the city of San Francisco and its residents have a valid complaint about the activities of the tech busses. These vehicles often use the same stops as the Muni busses. Obviously, that leads to late busses and traffic congestion when a tech bus sits at a stop delaying a city bus. Leap is establishing its own routes with its own stops. As long as the strategy behind the location of these stops is well developed, it should be just as unobtrusive as a delivery truck parked outside of a store.

Not Exclusive

Google busses are exclusive to Googlers. Apple busses can only be utilized by Apple employees. Leap Transit is for anyone with a smartphone or access to a printer. It is, however, a premium service, so while a ride on Muni is $2.25, a Leap ride comes in at $6, or $5 if purchased in bulk. Therefore, while many people look at the tech busses as symbols of the elite due to their exclusivity, Leap busses are available to anyone willing to pay a rate slightly less than that of a typical ride on Lyft or Uber. As a result, Leap busses need not be viewed as divisive in the community.

Focus on Areas Without Service

As part of its value proposition, Leap is focusing on areas of San Francisco that are underserved by Muni and could benefit from additional express routes between Pacific Heights and the Financial District. With additional mass transit options from the private sector, stress can be alleviated from some existing Muni lines and as the service grows, it has the potential to ease the tremendous traffic congestion at peak hours.

With clear benefits when compared to riding public busses and implementing flat rates that appeal to commuters as opposed to the surge models of on-demand services, Leap has positioned itself to take great strides. Ultimately, the most daunting challenge will be the ongoing battle with public perception. In order to succeed, Leap must continue to focus on designing for the Non-UX.

John FerriganComment