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man riding bike with backpack


A Case Study

ToRide is an original mobile app for casual riders who need more motivation to go outside and ride their bike.

Our goal was to improve the onboarding experience of biking for beginners.


Opportunity Statement

Novices who only started riding their bike recently need information on how they can ride with confidence at every step on their journey to becoming an experienced cyclist. As is, most popular existing biking apps cater much more to the advanced bike-rider interested in improving their numbers. Our first step in the research process was to conduct user interviews to gain insight into people's biking behaviors.

User Interviews
Affinity Map
Competitive Brand Matrix
C&C Analysis
Rapid Prototypes
Usability Tests

ToRide sends users notifications when their optimal weather and route conditions are met for a bike ride, as well as an award system that tracks their progress. However, ToRide did not start with all these features in mind. ToRide was designed from the ground up by me and a group of three other UX designers.

2 week sprint
UX Team
Jordan Kolb
Christina Massey
Abraham Galva
Zion Chang
Anchor 1
Insights From User Interviews

We made a mistake not conducting a screener survey to ensure we were testing the right audience. Our stipulations were looking for people who were “casual” bikers. The people we interviewed already had a set biking schedule and thus already had the motivation they needed to want to ride. This means the information we were receiving wasn’t going to help solve our opportunity statement as much as it could.

From the 10 people we interviewed, we found we were able to affinity map their responses into a few good I-statements that would shape the direction of our app. Casual bike riders like biking for the commute, for the exercise, for the sake of it.

"I feel comfortable when I take preventative measures to stay safe by..."
"...biking in safe areas."
"...biking where I wouldn't hit others."
"...wearing protective gear."
"...biking during the day."
"...being alert mentally."
"I want to ride in comfortable conditions by..."
"...biking on smooth terrain."
"...avoiding construction."
"...biking in nice weather."

While these statements were helpful in determining how bike riders want to feel when riding, feeling safe comfortable were elements outside of our control as user experience designers. Instead, we had to turn our focus toward motivating our users. We used this information to form our persona.

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Alex recently moved to Williamsburg, NY. Alex lives an active lifestyle and wants to get around the city by riding his bike. He is not used to the conditions that make up city bike riding. Alex has to avoid traffic, avoid construction, avoid other people, avoid bad weather. There is so much to avoid that it discourages Alex from going out. 



He is unfamiliar with biking in such close proximity to cars, construction and other people.



Thinking about biking is stressful and he needs motivation to actually go out and ride.

Problem Statement

Alex started biking as a way to de-stress, but his lack of comfort is hurting his motivation to ride. How can we help Alex get started on his bike riding experience and stay motivated while keeping his sense of safety and comfort?

Competitive & Comparative Feature Analysis

We created a Competitive Matrix in order to determine what we could do differently from other popular biking and fitness apps on the market.

From what we found, most biking apps catered to a hardcore audience that was interested in improving speed, distance, calories burned, etc. This gave us an opening for an app that catered more to casual, beginner riders. To get more insight into what our contemporaries were doing, we conducted a competitive and comparative analysis.


Our rival apps catered to advanced users and left out things like informational tips for casuals and features that talked about weather. Taking advantage of the lack of these features in other biking and fitness apps would form the backbone for the first half of our app. These three features would determine the direction our mid-fi would take:

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Design Studio
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Our first design studio overcomplicated things. We put so many features on the front page that we realized it could actually demotivate people from using the app out of sheer confusion.

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As our Design Studio process continued, we subtracted elements from the webpage that took away from the app’s core purpose. Our focus shifted to large, appealing pictures that would tell the user to go out and ride if the conditions are right. We started with a lot of features present and pared it down to the absolute minimum.

Mid-fi Wireframes
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In our mid-fi, the user is greeted with a motivational message. Clicking on it would swap the motivational message with an informational one about the weather and road conditions. The user can record their ride and save it to receive info on when it's free of traffic. In the accounts section, users can set when the user wants to be notified of biking conditions and the weather conditions and route to be notified about. 

Mid-Fi Usability Test Results

We asked 5 users to rate on a scale of 1-5 how easily they navigated through the site and how satisfied they were doing so. 


Users disliked our mid-fi home page. While it was eye-catching and every unanimously wanted to click on it to reveal the background message, once they did they were disappointed. Most people wanted to click on it to REMOVE the message more than anything else. Users didn’t understand why it was laid out this way.

The lack of satisfaction in our app came from users not seeing a purpose in using it, especially if they were newcomers. “So the app will tell me when it’s a good time to ride based on weather and road safety? Can’t I just use the weather app or Google Maps?” Our app was missing a core hook.

Fixing ToRide

Our app’s main feature of sending safety notifications caters to Alex’s desire for a comfortable experience, the encouraging messages provided him with very little motivation to actually go. It’s easy to tell someone, “just do it, it’ll make you feel better!” That’s what our app was doing. It’s another thing entirely to actually motivate them to do it. We broke these feelings down into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. ToRide focused too heavily on making the user feel comfortable to the point it ignored any aspect of motivating them through extrinsic rewards.

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Alex, due to being uncomfortable with city biking, lacks consistent intrinsic motivation to ride a bike. As he bikes more, he may start to enjoy riding for the sake of it. It might make him feel better, he’ll like the exercise, etc. We could use extrinsic motivation at the start to encourage him to ride his bike. Providing external rewards at the start can eventually be supplanted by or combine with an intrinsic motivation to ride, which is where our weather & safety notifications come in.

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Almost all of our competitors use achievements or challenges as a way to keep users coming back. However, most of these apps are catered towards experienced riders. Making these rewards casual or beginner friendly can separate us from the competition.

Hi-Fi Mockups
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We decided to use achievements and a progress bar to provide extrinsic motivation for Alex. The progress bar provides a clear visual showing how close Alex is to earning an achievement. After a ride, Alex will see how his decision to ride directly contributed toward earning medals. The more satisfying this process looks, the more Alex will be encouraged to go on future bike rides to see his progress grow again.

Hi-Fi Usability Test Results

We asked 5 users to rate on a scale of 1-5 how easily they navigated through the site and how satisfied they were doing so. 


In Summary

ToRide was a project that changed direction multiple times throughout its creation. Because we neglected that initial screener survey, we ended up missing that crucial motivational element that had to be added late into development. Once we started thinking of comfort and de-stressing as a form of intrinsic motivation, it became obvious that the element our app was missing was the extrinsic motivation, a reward system. Adding the achievements and progress bar finally brought balance to our app and gave Alex a reason to keep coming back. ToRide was an exercise in working until the very end and never giving up.



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