Akash Soti

August 15, 2017 | 4 Minute Read

Ola Outstation

Helping people travel across cities hassle free

The challenge

Build a dependable inter-city commute solution which is affordable, safe and convenient. Existing transportation services fail to deliver upon the promises they make and the experience of booking a inter-city cab is below par. Existing services don't provide up front clarity on what user's travel expense would be and often people end up frustrated in dealing with local travel agencies. In case of a break down or emergencies local travel agencies fail to deliver.

My role

Ola Outstation is built for frequent commuters who travel inter-city for business or vacation purposes. I studied existing transportation systems and mapped out a user journey of potential consumers to identify their pain points and figure out what success means to them. This helped me in setting up meetings with stakeholders and understand how business will help address those concerns and what success means for business.

I then regularly made end to end mockups and tested them with frequent outstation commuters. After which I showed best possible approach to stakeholders and senior designers and took feedback. This iterative approach helped me ship out a world-class product which is now being used by millions of users daily.

It took us 1 month to role out the MVP and another month to improve upon our product. I was the sole designer on this and currently looking after it.

Design planning

To build a dependable service I laid out a proper plan that will guide me towards clarity. From my previous experience of building Ola Shuttle I learned that the earlier I get feedback from users and stakeholders the better it is. I kept everybody associate with Outstation in loop and navigated them through my plan to reach desired outcome.

User study

I did some primary research to figure out who are customers are and what are their goals and concerns. What is their motivation to use a cab service for inter-city travel.

I figured out our users are frequent commuters who travel short inter-city routes like, Mumbai-Pune, Jaipur-Delhi, Delhi-Agra etc for business or vacation. These users are looking for a comfortable, dependable, and affordable solution.

Here are a few questions that I asked our users to chart down their existing user journey:

  • How do you find out about a outstation service in your city?
  • How do you figure out about pricing and its details?
  • Do you compare prices with other services?
  • Do you care about a car type; luxury, sedan or SUV?
  • Do you care about additional services like, A/C and Wi-Fi?
  • Do you have any concerns while traveling?
  • Do you travel one ways or return?
  • How do you pay for your travel?

The above set of questions helped us map the current user journey and its challenges.

Top user concerns during the existing service flow

  • Low choices for car type selection
  • Low clarity around price estimates
  • Lots of hidden costs like parking, permit and extra traveling charges
  • Anxiety around safety
  • Verbal communication for confirmation and last minute cancellations
  • Uneducated drivers, problems around communication
  • Poor billing system due to calculation around odometer readings

What are the desired outcomes

  • Reduce anxiety around booking confirmation
  • Provide clarity on travel estimates
  • Provide choices for cab type
  • Provide good support in case of a break down
  • Provide comfortable travel with air-conditioned, entertainment & WiFi
  • Provide clarity on inclusions and exclusions and ease the payment process
We obsessed over making booking process transparent and easy for the users. We tried a lot of approaches with real users and finally picked one for the MVP

Outstation, MVP

After spending countless hours on building end to end flows, debating over thousands of design challenges, we came to a consensus. We went ahead with the easiest flow possible, one that helps user book with clarity.

Learnings from MVP

Our learnings helped us understand our users better. There were a lot of scope for improvement and as the experience for other services in Ola were evolving and shaping up, outstation also ramped up its user experience.

  1. Improve one-way experience
  2. Package validations for unserviceable locations
  3. Improve the visibility of cancellation policy
  4. Improve trust among users through trust markers
  5. Single page approach for clarity while booking

A product that works for people

All of our efforts helped us build a world class product which is now helping millions of users reach their destinations stress free.

The Team Behind Ola Shuttle

  • Akash Soti, Product Designer
  • Sagar Warghade, Product Manager
  • Avinash Eratapalli, Head of Product, New initiatives
  • Sunit Singh, SVP Design
  • Prashant Jain, Design Director