Offering a moment of joy & celebration.

Information may be omitted for confidentiality.

My role.

This product feature was meant to be a very quick win for a much larger initiative. Because of that, we had to move quickly. I owned the interaction, visual, and motion design, while my PM, PMM, and design researcher worked on foundational research and product strategy in parallel.

Product timeline.

2 weeks.


Brand affinity had declined among Uber’s most valuable riders since #deleteuber in January 2017. The company instantly lost hundreds of thousands of riders because of it’s focus on transactions as opposed to human needs. Most of Uber’s products at the time were built with the primary goal of growth using cash incentives as the main draw. People were still calling Uber “a ride hailing service” and had yet to describe it as a brand/product they loved and were loyal to.


Start building a positive relationship with riders! Easier said than done, right? The first step to achieving this goal was to tackle the low hanging fruit across all touch points. My team had the opportunity to improve how we messaged vehicle upgrades to riders, aka Cross Dispatch. This was the first effort of an ongoing product strategy to win back our riders.

What is cross dispatch?

When Uber marketplace conditions are right, there’s a potential to Cross Dispatch riders to an even better vehicle class than the one they selected. For example, a rider who requested an uberX may get matched to an eligible SELECT or BLACK if Uber predicted better efficiency and higher driver earnings. This is essentially a vehicle upgrade for the rider.

Out with the old, in with the new.

The production build of Cross Dispatch worked perfectly; riders were getting to their destinations faster and drivers were making more money by the minute. However, the messaging was hidden and understated. According to the data and research, only a very few riders on a Cross Dispatch trip saw the message; riders just sat in the car confused as to why nicer cars were picking them up. No one complained, though. 😉

The original vehicle upgrade/cross dispatch design was tucked away in Uber Feed where users rarely looked.

The team wanted to do more to celebrate and acknowledge this moment. We thought that by doing so, it would contribute towards rebuilding our relationship with riders, making them feel special for continuing to rider with Uber.


There were a few touch points within the request and trip flow we could’ve surfaced the upgrade message to the rider. Research from teams across the org suggested that the sweet spot for our message would be right as the driver is matched to the rider (at the start of “En Route”), since most riders are still looking at the Uber app and waiting for their driver details to appear. There was less chance of it being missed or interrupting the relay of important pickup information.

Unfortunately, by surfacing our message at this particular step in the flow, we collided with another product feature: Trip Swap. Trip Swap is another efficiency feature that’s very similar to Cross Dispatch — they even have similar names. When two different drivers are on their way to pick up their respective riders, Trip Swap may see an opportunity to decrease pickup ETA by swapping those riders. The collision occurs because Trip Swap can happen any time when the driver is En Route. If we message the rider that they got upgraded to BLACK, but a few minutes later do a Trip Swap and downgrade them back to uberX to lower ETA, would they mind?

We looked at trip data to make our final decision. The collision between Cross Dispatch and Trip Swap rarely ever happened and was considered an edge case. Even so, we decided to modify the messaging for Trip Swap if, by chance, they both were triggered on a single trip.

Visual design & motion.

Existing Uber patterns were used to design the upgrade card and animations. I knew I wanted it to be a huge celebratory moment; very obvious and dramatic. I drew inspiration from the current Uber request state and my love for video games.

Riders will see an “Upgrade” card and some razzle-dazzle sparkly car upon Cross Dispatch. Color was the primary visual reference that tied together every new element that was unique to this moment.

A 3D camera in After Effects was used to get the animation just right. I rebuilt some of the core product animations in a single file so that fellow designers across the org could leverage. It was an investment that would save lots of time for everyone in the future.


From the get-go, we weren’t sure how to measure success. It’s pretty difficult to measure rider; We could only tell if the upgrade message was seen and if there was an increase in engagement with app after trip. Because Uber’s so data-driven, there was slight hesitation on how much product leadership wanted to invest; but feelings shifted towards excitement once I shared my animation. 🙂

Cross Dispatch was the last thing I shipped at Uber. If you're lucky, you might see it on your next trip! #reinstalluber