“DATA IS THE NEW OIL” is one of those famous simple mantras for the modern world. In this age of data economy, true company value lies in the collected customer’s data. This means data is an asset worthy of protecting and keeping. However, what companies sometimes forget is that the personal data of individuals processed by the companies are only borrowed. With the adoption of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), users’ awareness is enhancing, and the trend is getting more and more obvious.
Challenges on data privacy and continuously seamless UX
As a premium brand, on one hand, a continuous user experience, while customers are using different mobility services, is very important. On the other hand, when users switch from app to app, from device to device, data privacy and availability are both important. Under this circumstance, the “Welcome Home” project was set trying to solve these two challenges by using blockchain technology.
In this project, I led the research and leveraged user insights to inform the product design decisions, assure the initial hypothesis is improved iteratively.
Incorporating with the PO (PM), I co-directed the project and product development to ensure both user and business requirements were balanced and the product roadmap can well reflect the users’ priorities.
Besides, a small UX team was under my responsibility took care of design guidelines by using the Mercedes-Benz design system as the backbone. Last but not the least, I led the end-end design to assure the user flow is iteratively optimized, screen designs are a state of art, and the deliverables are aligned with the technology team.
Initial Hypothesis and iteration via storyboard
Cooperating with the MoP (MBUX Open Platform) team, several initial ideas were generated and transferred into a storyboard. By using the storyboard, a few rounds of iteration were run internally. The final iterated storyboard was taken to further user research.
User Research to dig deep and validate
Considering MoP strategy and the characteristics of Daimler’s different markets, Shanghai was selected to run the user interviews. In total, 8 interviewees were invited to join the research. In order to have more wide opinions, the interviewees were selected based on their gender, personal experience, and background culture.
Before showing the storyboard, the participants were firstly interviewed with a focus on their general experience regarding mobility services and data privacy. After that, the storyboard was shown as the inspiration for interviewees in order to gather more concrete feedback regarding the hypotheses.
Creating a Vision
The project team had a weeklong workshop to define the vision of the product. After going through the interview notes and understanding the insights, I highlighted several issues that could be enhanced by the design solution:
- Customization: While switching vehicles or using different mobility services, how can users have the similar in-car experience?
- Privacy: How do users keep their data private after a third-party service requiring data access?
- Sharing: How do users share their favorite in-car settings and data with their friends and families?
During the workshop, a lot of features were ideated and discussed. In the end, together with PM, we scaled down the number of features for MVP (minimum viable product). Based on the results, a storyboard was created to describe the MVP. By using the storyboard as the mainframe, several main features were defined and added as the initial product backlog. The backend was also discussed, defined, and added to the product backlog based on the main features and storyboard. Besides, another outcome of the workshop is that the development sprint setups were also discussed and determined.
Designing down from a Vision to a MVP product
After the workshop, I created the wireframe and possible interactions for the mobile application in terms of the features defined before.
As the design progressed, predicted the possible scenarios, discussed them with PM, I elaborated how the user flow works in each scenario once those cases happened. For instance, one account connects with different devices (vehicles), multi-accounts connect with one device, or multi-accounts connect with multi-devices. These surprising situations led us to think and react with design solutions quickly. I listed the possible scenarios, discussed them with PM, and built the clarification for each scenario to describe the user flow once it happened.
After the wireframe was established, several key visuals were carried out as the basic guidelines, incorporating with other visual designers. Based on the basic guidelines, we (the team) started to create visual designs. In parallel, I constantly kept managing and extending the guidelines as requirements came up.
Over the next few weeks, I created most screens and interactive prototypes with original assets while revisiting them multiple times to incorporate feedback from several rounds of UX, PM reviews.
Apply technology in a thoughtful way
Blockchain technology was used to ensure continuous in-car experience and data privacy, even during the data exchange or sharing. Considering the characteristics of the technology, I sliced the data into smaller pieces to make sure of the self-sovereign ID management. Users can decide which service providers can access what data. And all access activities from service providers will be recorded on the chain and cannot be modified, which keeps the full transparency of data usage for users. Because of the highly secured data privacy, using a blockchain-backed KYC (Know Your Customer) provider will require only one verification while users switch between various services.
With the advantages of the product, the user can enjoy a consistent personalized experience no matter which vehicle the user will drive. By simply syncing the account, users can experience their favorite in-car settings, such as ambient lights, music, and driving settings, in different vehicles through aesthetically pleasing UI. Besides, users are able to easily view who has accessed their data and which data is used for what reasons. That means with the full transparency of data usage, users can manage the data access and decide completely by themselves, how their data is used by which business.
After pitching the product and business model to executives, the product got fully supported by the Board of Management. In order to get more flexibility and speed up the internal process, the product got Mercedes-Benz funded and fully endorsed as an independent startup. Currently, the product is not only focusing on the automobile industry but also extended to the sustainable energy and logistics industries.