Hi, everybody! (Hi, Dr. Nick!) My name is Daanish and I’m the Head of User Experience at Vanhawks.

I’m responsible for the conception and design of the mobile software and digital interactions integrated within the Valour. We faced and continue to face a lot of challenges with regards to the design and functionality of the mobile application and I’m happy to say we’re getting to a point in our timeline that we will soon be testing the app in conjunction with a functional Valour.

Even though it’s still a little early, I want to give you a sneak peek of the redesigned mobile application. On top of that I want to talk a little bit about the design philosophy of how we’re approaching the problems we face. One thing I knew right away was,

any experience that moves beyond the simplicity of riding a bike had to be done in such a manner that it doesn’t take away from the riding experience itself.

That’s why we made the early decision to remove the “start” button. The “start” button is an actual interface element and a metaphor within our design language. The actual interface element is the button a user would have to press to “start navigation” or “start recording my ride”.

Why did we think that this button—which is so central to apps like Google Maps, Strava and many other map-based apps—should be removed? It’s because it causes usage friction and in effect, reduces both use-frequency and app-reliability. We found that many users tend to stop recording their rides and activity as time passes. This was related to the idea that you have to “prepare” an app and hit “start”. This process was the one big hurdle that holds many users back from recording all of their trips and activity.

By removing the start button, we have to teach the Valour what it means to go on a “ride”. In our case, a ride is classified when a rider is on the bike and moving along on the ground. We quickly found out that a bike moved in so many different ways that doesn’t involve a rider on top. The bike could be moving on a bike rack on or above your car or bus or train. People also tend to carry bikes up and down stairs. If we can teach the bike what it means to go on a ride it will know when to start and stop tracking your rides.

Imagine what that would feel like; never having to press “record” or start navigation but still having all of your rides recorded!

Beyond this, we also wanted to emphasize the need for a user to quickly look up locations above everything else. This was very difficult with our initial plans for a burger-styled menu navigation. We eventually got rid of the entire menu and had come up with an entirely new way of organizing the app layout to emphasize the navigation function. Now, access to the map is always visible and the simple question: “Where to?” is always just a tap away.

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These examples highlight the main design principle that we’re following through the rest of the the application as well as all software that we’ll be developing. As time progresses I’ll offer an in-depth look into how each part of the app works, and maybe showcase it in a video or two 😀

~ Daanish

Follow Daanish on Twitter — @DaanishMaan