Providing partners with rides at scale.

From luxury experiences to safe and convenient transportation for communities in need, Uber Central is a simple way to order rides for others at scale.

Information may be omitted for confidentiality.

My role.

I owned a large part of the design process that included: service, interaction, and visual design.

I also partnered with my design manager for subject matter expert interviews, marcomm designer for the design of the alpha build, researcher for usability tests, product manager for scope and prioritization, and engineering team for development — I actually committed React code for this one!

Product timeline.

4 months


Problem.

The business development team at Uber caught wind that some of our strategic partners were using Uber for Business (U4B) in a pretty hacky way. Imagine a business owner with 10 mobile devices with the Uber app open, each with a unique trip in-progress. Those trips are tied to a single U4B account so that fare would be billed back to the business owner.

This happens because a single device can only request a single ride and business owners usually have multiple customers they want to order rides for.

Objective.

With a tight timeline of four months and our team composition, we decided to develop a web-based tool; one that allowed businesses to request concurrent rides for their customers. Almost like Uber Rush, but for people. At the end of the four months, leadership would decide if our beta product was worth investing more resources into.


SME Interviews.

My design manager and I kicked off our process by interviewing three partners that our business development lead signed for our beta product: a retail partner, senior care facility, and healthcare partner. Our goal was to understand their use cases in order to build a product that improved upon the current U4B hack.

Between the three types of partners and their use cases, I put together a service blueprint that detailed each step of the service and the characters involved. This helped the team get an overview of all the moving parts and identify any opportunities we might miss otherwise.

The image above is of the Uber Rush Dashboard.

We also talked to the Uber Rush team since there was a lot of overlap between our products. They shared a lot of knowledge and learnings, and we were lucky to be able to leverage their designs and tech for a quick prototype.

Product principles.

Product principles that would guide our designs began to emerge after all the knowledge we gained from our interviews and intial research. They were pretty close to principles that were used across Uber.

Efficient.

Create an efficient or automated workflow to differentiate us from competitors.

Simplified & focused.

Reduce cognitive load by highlighting critical information and removing noise.

Conversational.

Be friendly, supportive, and clear as most Central riders may not be familiar with Uber.

Helpful to drivers.

Surface relevant information to help our driver partners prepare for non-Uber user pickups.


Touch & go design.

The service blueprint, Rush designs, and product principles simplified the creation of our framework. I designed the flow, logic, interactions, and motion while working alongside my marcomm design counterpart to incorporate visual design.


Celebrity bodystorm sesh.

Once the design was in a good place, I wanted to review them with my cross-functional leads. My manager suggested we do a bodystorm, a very interactive service prototype where participants physically act out parts using our Uber Central.

We got our team together – product, design, eng, research, and legal to act out scenarios for two hours. The three scenarios took place in imaginary Las Vegas Buhrlagio. The engineers were the main stars and acted as famous celebrities as we role played out the Uber Central experience.

Scenario 1:You can't watch me on your video phone.

Queen Bey dropped her phone in the Buhrlagio Fountain and is dialing from a telephone booth.

Scenario 2:Too famous...?

Kanye wants a ride but doesn’t want to give his phone number.

Scenario 3:Recovery, the remix.

Bieber partied too hard last night and needs an UberASSIST.

Each of the scenarios covered ones that our partners had mentioned before (except slightly embellished). We were able to tease out lots of legal requirements, technical limitations, and awkward social situations between operators and customers. From there, I iterated on the designs while our engineering team began working on parts of the product that weren’t going to change.


Testing out our alpha build on design leadership.

Within a few weeks, our engineering team put together a functional alpha build that we were able to test. Definitely incomplete, but the ability to request concurrent rides was there. The team tested with each other, but we wanted to socialize it with other people across the product org. We signed up to review and test the product out on our design leadership.

The review wasn’t a typical design review; we weren’t looking at individual screens or flows. We were reviewing the service. My manager and I acted as the operators who requested rides for our customers to go to Sightglass Coffee. There, we would discuss the experience and collect feedback.

… And because we didn’t have SMS built, we had to write driver details on a card, handed it to leadership and crossed our fingers they didn’t get lost.

This method was great as it opened up dialogue to collaborate with other teams as well as test the product and collect feedback. Design leadership saw the immediate impact this product could have, but we had lots of work ahead of us.


Final beta iteration.

My design process was able to get me to a solid beta product for our partners. Below are a few samples of the design. *Note that I had worked with a marcomm designer for the alpha build, but owned the visual design after.


The results of our beta release.

Within 4 months, Uber Central beta was released. We gave our partners (we now signed a few more) the opportunity to use it for a month before we flew out to visit a few of them in Atlanta, GA.

One of the partners we got to visit was Common Courtesy, a nonprofit dedicated to helping seniors get where they need to go, whether it’s a doctor’s appointment or a trip to the grocery store.

We love it. We’re now able to centralize our operations as opposed to managing multiple Uber accounts.

-Bob Carr, Co-founder

Common Courtesy wanted to show us a video of one of their members describing her experience with the service they were providing in partnership with Uber. Her name is Gail Potter and she’s living with Parkinson’s disease. Please please please watch this video and listen to her story.

It’s so easy to get caught up and think of it as just more work to crank out. After watching the video, it was the first time I truly saw the impact our team was making, and I was immensely proud.


Today, Uber Central has a dedicated product team under Uber for Business and has also spun off a separate product called Uber Health.