Many ridesharing drivers find joy in the conversations and moments they share with their riders. In these moments, being a ridesharing driver means more than just driving – it means helping people, making connections, and learning more the individuals they would have never met if not for their jobs.
However, given that most of these moments are made in audible conversations, the chance of these moments between differently abled drivers and riders are diminished.
Facing this problem, our team asked, how might we facilitate meaningful interactions between differently abled riders and drivers?
We decided that the best approach to researching ride sharing drivers directly would be to use Uber or Lyft as our main form of transportation.
Our user group was quite diverse. Here are some examples of our drivers,
- Male, in mid-twenties or early-thirties; recent immigrant from Yemen; English-learner
- Woman, in mid fifties; Oakland native; working part-time as an Uber driver; previously worked at a concert venue; went to SF State; studied criminal justice and law
- Male, in late thirties or early forties; SF native; UX researcher residing in SF
- Male, in late sixties or early seventies; immigrant from Britain; ex-professor and freelance videographer
Since our user group and themes are still broad, we wanted to make sure our questions were open-ended and non-intrusive. We used this simple protocol for each ride, hoping that it would open more doors and lead us to interesting insights.
Participant ObservationsTo understand what riders were experiencing and the micro-interactions in each car ride, we spent lots of time ourselves in Ubers, Lyfts, and taxies
Hierarchical Task AnalysisTo understand the driver experience, we had to break down the process of each task and possibility for interaction. HTA allowed us to understand what constraints we would face in the driving-context.
Across all rides, a common theme between all the drivers was their openness and willingness to share stories about their personal experiences or crazy rides they have had. For many, it was easy to recall their experiences, which presumes that they have had many more that they could share. These stories were not only limited to the riders that have entered their car, but the drivers were also open about their own personal lives and did not hesitate to let the riders know more about who they were.
For each driver, they always ensured that the safety and comfort of their riders came first. For many, they began the car ride by asking the riders about how their day was going. There were also many amenities available in the car if the rider needed (water, gum). If they entered the vehicle keeping to themselves and not engaging with the driver, the driver would not impose a conversation and would ride in silence. But if the rider entered the car ready to engage, the driver would make an effort to carry a conversation. At times when multiple riders were in the car, the driver made sure that everyone was included to the level they were comfortable with, and they were cognizant of the conversation topics so as to not discomfort any rider.
Depending on the driver’s background, drivers often talked about how they started driving or where they came from originally. Immigrant drivers usually were open to talk about their cultural food, music, and customs. Meanwhile, part-time drivers shared usually information about their full-time jobs and hobbies.
Driver's Needs & Painpoints
Driving can be repetitive. Drivers need some form of vibrancy – a meaningful interaction – to address the monotony of driving for hours.
Drivers need to clearly communicate with their riders. In the case of differently abled drivers, they relied on hand gesturing, written notes, body language, and facial expressions.
Lack of Fulfillment
Most drivers put their riders first, but drivers also needed to have an overall enjoyable experience. Drivers who felt that they were helping others, rather than performing a repettive task, and meeting new people reported greater satisfaction. A higher frequency of meaningful communication correlated to greater feelings of fulfillment.
We want to allow driver’s with disabilities a chance to communicate with riders, in ways that they may not have the chance to. This addresses the pain point of limited communication, while providing a gain, a possible meaningful interaction and a way for these drivers to interact more with their world in the safety of their own vehicles.
Brainstorming, Matching User Needs & Solutions
- Build a tablet application with two screens - one for the driver and one for the passenger. Allows riders to pick patterns/colors/animations/drawings that change the ambience of the car in real-time and hence communicate a message to the driver.
- Display on which riders and drivers can contribute to a collaborative “mural;” each user can write quotes, advice, jokes, stories, or just draw on this screen. Through this means, drivers can learn from their riders with little (or no) interaction; in future iterations, drivers would be able to share these “murals” with community.
- Gamifying the storytelling experience: each time a passenger rides in a car, they add one line to the ‘driver’s story’ which is started at the beginning of each day. The end of the day marks the end of a ‘chapter.’
A tablet in which drivers can facilitate interactions with their riders with a ‘Question of the Day/’Quote of the Day’/’Tell Me What’s on Your Mind’/’Draw ___________’, which they enter on the tablet at the beginning of the day. The riders throughout the day can ‘give a part of themselves’ to the driver, and at the end of the day, the driver is left with a corroborated collection of thoughts, ideas, and drawings of their riders which tells a story about the kinds of people they’ve interacted with.
Parallel Alternative SketchesGiven research on feedback and critique, we decided to create multiple sketches for the same solution.
After parsing through each low-fi sketch, we aggregated the qualities that we found best fit user needs and synthesized them in a refined sketch.
The application will be localized on a tablet, separate from the driver's ride-sharing application.
Differently abled drivers, who are hard of hearing or mute, may not have the opportunity to share their story with riders. Therefore, we integrated a driver biography to humanize each driver and allow riders to learn about their story.
Although the driver profile feature exists on Uber, our interviewees reported that they rarely used this feature as it takes multiple clickthroughs.
Driver: The driver can edit and display three selected activities for their riders, with a prompt of their choosing. This was integrated to give driver's control of what content they would receive from their riders.
Rider: The rider can choose amongst multiple activities. Each selected activity would have a simple interface to reduce cognitive load and address short
- Question and Answer
- Drop a Pin: Where are you from?