Taxi Comparison & Booking App

Company: Kabbee, Role: Head of Design

UX Design UI Design Research Prototyping Usability Testing Branding Workshop Facilitation
The Kabbee app shown on various devices including an iPhone and Android mobile

Before transport behemoth Uber had conquered London, a startup called Kabbee made a splash. One of the first movers in the app-based minicab and taxi booking space, Kabbee prided itself on offering Londoner's choice. Aside from the ability to book, pay and track the progress of a car as it moved towards you; Kabbee also offered passengers the ability to compare prices amongst a long list of private taxi companies across the city; a unique offering compared to its competitors.

Despite having a small team and the limited resources of a typical early-stage startup, Kabbee had quite a big range of products across devices and channels. The primary app was the customer-facing comparison and booking app, available on iOS, Android, Desktop and briefly Windows Mobile. For the supplier, there was a companion platform and dispatch system. This supplier platform allowed cab companies to easily accept, track and send out drivers directly to Kabbee customers; unlocking access to new business opportunities.

Change is good, sometimes

Before I joined Kabbee, the app had been through various design incarnations in a short space of time; each looking vastly different from the last, resulting in decreased bookings and an influx of poor reviews. I joined Kabbee as the first design and product hire with prior changes completed by external agencies and freelancers. I was responsible for taking ownership of the product, creating consistency and retaining customers by providing a better, more stable booking experience.

Screenshots showing variations of the Kabbee app in different colours
Inherited designs: Variations of the Kabbee app had been released over the course of a year prior to my joining the team. Each interface quite different from the last and with different colour schemes.

With limited resources at my disposal, I opted for a lean approach; implementing regular guerilla-style interviews with commuters and surveys to understand problems and test solutions. With our busiest booking time being Friday evenings, I (not at all awkwardly) spent many hours outside pubs asking people how they were getting home after their work drinks and begging them to look at my phone for just a couple of seconds!

Sometimes less is more

A theme emerging throughout the initial interviews was that overall Londoners found booking a cab on their phone a great experience but were often confused and overwhelmed by how information was displayed within the Kabbee app. It seemed not everyone wanted so much choice in the heat of the moment.

Sticky notes with scribbled words stuck to a table
Journey mapping: Using customer feedback to map out the essential features and access points was an important part of the process.

Kabbee engaged many different cab companies across London, each time a search was run within the app, users would be presented with a massive range of options. Users were required to filter by or select their preferred car size, car type, driver rating, a company rating, and passenger or baggage limits before they could even make a booking. All this information presented at once was overwhelming, and the feedback was clear, it didn't usually apply to most of our customers.

I just want a cab quickly without having to think about all these things!

Creating a design system

Once comfortable that I had understood the customers' needs and concerns, I began redesigning the entire product suite with the goal being ease of use, consistency and speedy time to book. Wireframes, journey maps and personas were developed to get buy-in and generate excitement from the growing development team, management and investors.

I worked with internal stakeholders to create a cohesive look and feel that worked with our primary logo and was purposeful in its design. The previous apps had ranged in colour from bright pink, green to orange; used different icon and illustration styles and had different typefaces depending on which screen you were on. Customers found this visual variety confusing, unsure where to tap or what to read.

Four screenshots showing the taxi booking process in the Kabbee app
Comprehensive design langugage: The revised Kabbee UI highlighting the new look and feel across the booking journey.

Colour was refined and used to guide people through the booking flow, using a specific impactful yellow on booking related calls to action and buttons. Icons were redesigned to improve visual recognition and scan-ability while typefaces were chosen to improve clarity and accessibility. Presenting these redesigned prototypes to focus groups across the city helped ensure we headed in the right direction.

Take me home, please

Research had also shown that most Kabbee users simply used the app to get home from a night out, asking them where they wanted to go each time was pointless. I developed a feature called 'Take Me Home' which was integrated into all Kabbee apps, allowing customers to tap a single button, prefilling their home destination and most common cab selections; removing all effort and drastically increasing time on task. This feature proved a hit, resulting in a considerable increase in evening bookings.

I'm often a little tipsy when I use the app, to be honest...

Evaluating and prioritising the information architecture throughout the apps was another significant improvement. I used card sorting activities with key customer segments to ensure only the information users needed was displayed upfront. The final result was a more straightforward slider device for selecting cab size, hiding non-essential options in a sub-navigation.

Overall, this redesign project resulted in Kabbee being awarded Best App at the UK Mobile & App Design Awards and led to a large increase in bookings and registrations. There was a noticeable improvement in reviews across all app stores, with the iOS version jumping from a two-star reviewed app to four stars over a couple of months.