Uber Technologies, Inc. is an American, multinational transportation network company (TNC) that offer transportation services online. The services can be accessed by its website and mobile app, although the later is commonly preferred by the people.
Being one of the first of its kind, its popularity has reached high levels in a short period of time. Launched in 2009 in San Francisco, California, US, today Uber is estimated to have 110 million worldwide users.
Below is an interaction design evaluation of the Uber app, using the 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design:
- Visibility of system status: The users are informed about what is going on and receive suitable feedback within relevant time.
Uber gives the facility to its users to see the current processes, all the way from booking a ride, to the end of it.
From the start, it displays the time it would take for the driver to reach them, the estimated fare, and then during the ride, it shows them their current location continuously along with the time that would take them to reach their destination. Furthermore, it shows notifications upon the arrival of the driver and reaching the destination, accompanied by the total calculated fare. Alerts are shown on the completion of other events too, such as a driver being connected etc. It also provides the users with the contact information of the driver when they are waiting for him to arrive, in case there is some query or confirmation they want to make.
- Match between system and the real world: The system uses common and easy language and concepts that are easily understandable by the users.
One of the main reasons for which Uber has been preferred widely by people is its simple and easy-to-understand usage. The app interface uses terms and elements that are known locally by the user, for example, it shows a vehicle image on the map to represent its location instead of technical icons. Other icons used in the menu are also graphical pictures of real world items, which are easy to interpret as compared to other metaphors.
- User control and freedom: The users are allowed to easily undo or redo their actions.
Uber lets the users to go back from every action until they have confirmed the ride, i.e. choosing the pickup location, the drop-off destination, the type of vehicle etc. Even after the confirmation, they are allowed to cancel the ride, although the action is free of cost for just a limited period of time, after which some charges are applied.
- Consistency and standards: The system does not use different elements to perform identical functions to prevent confusion among the users.
The complete functionality of the Uber app is pretty straightforward, hence minimizing the need of any repetition. In some exceptional cases, such as cancellation of a ride, the users are taken back to the initial screen, starting the same flow again with the same controls and interface.
- Error prevention: The system takes appropriate measure to avoid errors and other problems.
Uber takes precaution to avoid system errors and other related problems to provide the users with a satisfying experience. It uses the approach of having a simple interaction design and clear, visible controls to minimize issues regarding the usability of the app. It also provides constantly-available support for the users to report any complaint or provide their feedback.
- Recognition rather than recall: The system relies on compact action flow and clear controls which can easily be understood and remembered by the users.
Uber guides its users throughout the whole process of booking a ride and reaching one’s destination via its app. It directs them step by step, specifying a new screen for each stage. The instructions for any input needed by the user are clear, and even automated where possible, like receiving their location by GPS. Moreover, the buttons, menus and other controls are displayed visibly, and use icons that can easily be understood by common users.
- Flexibility and efficiency of use: The users are allowed to perform actions with their own will and choice.
In many phases of the ride booking process, Uber permits the users to choose from various options. For example, in the beginning, the users can change their location from the one detected by the GPS system. They can then enter an exact pinned location on the map as a destination, even if it’s not available in the google map’s search option. Furthermore, the users can choose a desired type of vehicle for the ride, ranging from motor bike and rickshaw, to different sizes of cars. The users are also allowed to cancel the ride before it reaches to them. Users can also choose how they wish to pay the driver, i.e. via card or cash.
- Aesthetic and minimalist design: The system does not display irrelevant information or extra styling of the interface to the user, as it might overwhelm them.
Uber uses extremely simple design in its app. Each element that it contains, whether it’s the typography and the color scheme it uses, or its icons and logo, follow minimalistic approach, hence is easily interpretable by the users. Also, the information displayed is brief and that too, which is essential for the user.
- Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors: The system provides error messages and other alerts in simple language. It is also better to suggest solutions wherever possible.
Uber mostly provides shows error alerts in with clear messages, like “Unable to connect to the server. Please check your connection and try again” and “No cars available. Please try later”. But in some cases, the users are shown ambiguous messages too, and result in leaving them uncertain about what next step should be taken to combat the problem other than the option of just closing the app and giving up.
- Help and documentation: The users are offered instructions or similar kinds of help manuals to assist them in interacting with the system.
The Uber app provide a help section in their main menu. The users can go through pre-answered FAQS regarding many possible issues they want assistance with. It provides information about many topics such as instructions on how to complete basic events like booking a ride, or making the payment. The section also gives possible solutions incase of some technical or other general complications, like inability of successfully completing a task, or problems with the driver etc. Furthermore, if neither of the provided answers help, the users can contact the Uber support via email.