First Move

Enabling Mobility



Mercedes-Benz as an automobile manufacturer faces an existential challenge through customers’ changing views of mobility.

I designed a new mobility-centered digital assistant with the Innovation Team at Mercedes-Benz.

Background



Mercedes-Benz faces a disconnect with a growing population equipped with ubiquitous mobility options.

At the same time, current customers lack service offerings that are becoming increasingly standard by rivals.

Our team was tasked with exploring this space and how we might facilitate mobility for new and current customers.

Existing Product Landscape


Current customers lacked defining products that set MB apart from the competition. Meanwhile, mobility products geared towards new customers failed in North America.

Scope



In a 3 week sprint, our team of three (1 design, 1 product, 1 engineer) would deliver an MVP that targets mobility painpoints for new and current customers. Our GM evaluated our final prototype.

The Problem



Compromise isn't Enough



Mobility was about getting from A to B, so we looked at a classic example: mornings.

Trees, Not the Forest



We found users were focused on individual tasks with a short-term approach out of necessity - they didn't have time for sense-making.

Summing Up



These understandings set our two primary constraints: low cognitive load in the moment and minimal interaction.

How might we help users accomplish more in the morning, getting them out the door happier and faster without adding tasks?

The Solution



Rapid Creation



First Move is a digital assistant that automates scheduled tasks.

Create Moves quickly by pulling from calendars, creating in-app, or setting up recurring events.

Automate Your Morning



Moves can be reminders or automations: set a reminder to grab lunch on your way out or automate takeout.

Multiple Tasks, On Time



Users can turn off the AC, call a rideshare, and set all reminders — all catered to their schedules.

Recurring Moves



Users can set up their own rules for automation. Cold weather? Preheated car without ever making a Move.

The Research Process



Finding Our Users



Our team talked to 31 users over 4 days to understand their various mornings.

While we identified 4 user groups, one stood out in particular.

Transitions as Friction



Customers found one particularly problematic moment in their day: right before a transition to another place.

During this time independent professionals wanted to accomplish more tasks in a morning.

Our assumption was that by completing these tasks, their transitions would be eased and enable mobility.

Transitions to Transitions


Mobility is all about moving from A to B. But users found transit experiences surprisingly pleasant. By contrast, moments before them were filled with stress.

Competitive Audit



Tesla offers calendar sync, removing the need for user input. But assistance is limited to reminders and GPS.

Siri, Google, and Alexa perform great - but users have to initiate. In their task flurry, they weren't initiating in the first place.

Flipping the Script


Existing assistants help on demand but users weren't initiating in the chaos of the morning. What if assistants could anticipate and provide actionable solutions?

The Design Process



The Approach



Get wireframes onto eyeballs, gather actionable feedback, and iterate — in a week.

Whiteboarding the Idea



As an experience, users would share tasks they needed completing. In return, the product processes that task at the right time and provides a solution.

This meant two main challenges:

  1. Creating Moves (tasks) to be done.
  2. Triggering Moves at a specific time.

1. Un-Chore-ify Tasks



Ideally, events are imported from native iOS/Google calendars and translated into tasks without manual input.

An in-app option was needed, but ran the risk of conflicting with research insights. As a result, recurring events were encouraged.



Moves were shown as cards, which comprise a feed. Cards were a useful design pattern because of their casual nature. Lists overwhelm; cards could be dismissed.

Moves were hidden until action was required.

2. Simplifying Triggers



Moves are then translated to requests. As a demo, my teammate remotely scheduled, started, and pre-heated a Mercedes C300 equipped with Mercedes Me.

The same underpinnings allow for reminders, traffic alerts and ETAs, and third-party services.

Usability Testing



With an evaluation-ready wireframe, I tested prototypes with eight users.

It was clear that creating Moves felt like filling out tax forms.

There were too many options, but time was the worst as it forced people to plan and calculate future events.



Additionally, form input and the resulting card output lacked cohesion; users were confused that the card that appeared was actually thing they spent time filling out.



Finally, discoverability in the feed was low. Hiding archived cards showed merit, but the lack of indicators made things difficult for users.

Once More with Feeling



Components at this stage started being refined.



First, timing was re-worked completely. Testing confirmed two main periods of use: AM (leaving house) and PM (leaving work).

As a result, users are given a single "Leave Time," which determined the timing for all Moves in that period - simplifying the entire time calculation process.



For Move creation, the major change was linking visual representation of user input vs. resulting output. Filling out info was represented on the card itself.



Finally, increasing discoverability on the feed meant introducing a swipe-up menu as a visual cue for interaction.

This menu listed all in-progress and scheduled Moves with stripped-down cards, each with delete and edit options.

Lessons Learned



Closing the Loop



Intentionality in design is something I continually strive for. Rules and principles are created directly from user insights and feedback.

That intentionality impacts not only how well teammates can collaborate, it affects how a product feels.

Know Your Limits



Scoping problems isn't just wise; it's humility. A three-week sprint can only produce so much. There's only so many people to talk to, so much to learn—and so much your designs can be validated.

Designing a sustainable process is often just as valuable as nose-to-the-grindstone work.