Distilling Concepts Into Plans

Constructing a straight route to a delivery service app.

As a leading last-mile delivery software provider, GrandJunction wanted businesses to effectively tender delivery jobs directly to a marketplace of independent drivers. This venture required a different approach from their main business of working with established delivery companies.

Instead, GrandJunction wanted to give drivers a custom smartphone app to find pickups and deliveries in their desired area. This job management app would also let drivers manage their delivery schedule and keep shippers in the loop. The app would naturally need to be easy to use for people on the go. At first, however, all they had was the concept.


Simple concept with a lot of loose ends

We discover the need for edge-case functions.

GrandJunction was familiar with our collaborative approach, having worked through ideas with us before. They were excited to launch a new project with us — in fact, they had already started sketching ideas. “We have a ‘war room’ for this project,” they told us.

workflow

To get ourselves up to speed, we interviewed prospective driver-customers. A few insights jumped out at us. A delivery driver's top priority is to be on time, especially on urgent jobs. We discovered that proof of delivery was important, as was the trust between shippers and drivers. Building relationships is vital to success as well, where reliability leads to companies calling specific drivers directly.

To that end, profiles with photos that humanized each driver would be important. Companies wouldn’t hire trucks, after all. They would hire people. Profiles would also include what each driver preferred to deliver or not — for example, dry ice or blood and plasma. Knowing this helped us figure out what the app should do, screen by screen.


Business goals lead the way

We whittle down ideas to the core of the product.

When the rubber met the road and the Sharpies met the sketch sheets, we started building on concepts the GrandJunction team already had in mind. We explored possibilities for a recommendation engine, a driver-network capability, leaderboard with achievement hooks, and playful language to delight drivers. In the end, we chose to rule out non-essential features in favor of getting the product to market quickly.

sketches

First goal: set up drivers for success. Every screen would contribute to helping drivers select, pick up, and deliver jobs.

Second goal: provide peace of mind to shippers. Photos that confirmed deliveries, notes and signatures were important to make sure jobs were done well, and done completely.

We made a decision to focus on core functionality, instead of a pie in the sky. And having worked with us before, GrandJunction knew our philosophy — there’s always a V2. Great ideas don’t just vanish. They tend to resurface in subsequent releases.

 

Success is in the details

We flesh out interaction for a start-to-end experience.

Picking up and delivering a package seems simple enough, but as we mapped out the possible scenarios, we found hidden use cases. We discovered the need for additional functions and affordances by exploring "what-ifs". Drivers would need more than directions to a destination. They’d also need accountability for unexpected problems, such as heavy traffic, being involved in an accident, or damaging merchandise enroute. This required screens that logged delivery and pickup confirmations. And shippers would need both contact information and a rating system. We also discovered the importance of records, so we created a job history workflow.

We put ourselves in the driver's seat so we could experience the app as close as possible. We tested for interaction holes with Solidify. Cruising through the workflows, we were able to keep vital information up-front, and defer less necessary details — for example, making sure the app prioritized delivery information over package details.

The app became more refined with each iteration. We prototyped every minute interaction in each step in the process, and determined how the app's verbiage would change as drivers took different actions.

Visuals become the driver of usability

Form meets function as we skin the app.

In the end, we found ways to make the app very visual. At-a-glance graphics and information made it easy to use for drivers on the go. Typography, color and contrast were the main tools we used to balance the visual aesthetics with the app's goals.

Although the app was designed with utility in mind, it came out looking sharp. To ensure that look would continue after the project launched, we presented GrandJunction with final set of wireframes and visual assets, complete with a style guide, so they could elaborate on our patterns for future iterations.

We began with a solid concept and many ideas. Bringing ideas into focus meant deciding which to keep, which to shelve, and asking ourselves if we had accounted for every likely scenario. You could say that bringing ideas into focus resulted in a successful delivery.


I’ve worked with ZURB on a number of projects and am always delighted with the process and the results. The ZURB team is smart, sharp, and gets it done. Thanks to them, we now have a great mobile app we can roll out to drivers. — Constantin Tanno, Director of Product Development, GrandJunction

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