Lyft Speaks Up About Mobile Experience

This is the first in a series of interviews with top product managers at mobile-focused companies. The interviews include exclusive content covering best practices, KPI optimizations, mobile predictions and more.

@FrankYoo, Lyft’s Director of Product Design, sat down with Kiip to discuss his experience building a mobile product that users love.

lyft

Image source: Facebook

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned leading design for the Lyft app?

From a product perspective, the app and technology stack – while important – are not everything. The app is a conduit to people-powered experiences. This is what makes Lyft so great: much of the experience is actually outside the app. There’s only so much you can do with technology until you ultimately hand off the experience to the people.

Another lesson is handling complexity: Lyft as a system is dynamic and complex. There are so many device variations, OS versions, and platforms accessing the system. And as a location-based on-demand service, you have to think about GPS, network connectivity, passenger and driver user types. There are so many different variables to compensate for. For developing the product with all of these variables, you must be flexible and excited to embrace change.

What key metrics do you monitor and optimize to build successful mobile apps?

Reliability is the key metric.The service must be up and running at all times. The other metrics we monitor are all based on something we call the “critical path.” Critical path is the following user experience: login, request a Lyft, get picked up, finish the ride, rate and pay. Whenever we prepare a release, we do a full regression test of all features existing and new, and we doubly focus to this critical path. Again, back to reliability as the critical feature in terms of both user experience and uptime.

What are your thoughts on mobile apps vs mobile web?

Since performance is so key to the Lyft experience, we’ve focused on native. Mobile web is great for static, lightly interactive content. But all mobile web is kept clear from critical user flows. Mobile web has scrolling, caching and other performance-related issues, so we try to limit the mobile web views to static content as much as possible. We have content and help pages, as well as a driver portal accessible via web and mobile web.

What mobile commerce trend are you most excited about?

I’m super excited about leveraging shared resources versus object ownership. This is a defining trend in our generation with services like Lyft, Airbnb, eBay and more. There’s something very powerful about the idea that we can participate in these marketplaces and services, and by doing so you get in touch with your neighbors and create actual friendships. I’m excited about technology that makes you go outside and interact with the people around you.

What’s one mobile app prediction you believe that most people do not?

Apps are getting dumber versus smarter, but that’s a good thing. The app itself is a powerful and sophisticated, yet simple and user-friendly shell. Under the hood, third-party APIs, supporting SDKs and other mobile infrastructure allow you to bootstrap your app with much less home-grown technology.

You can see Frank Yoo’s original interview here. Come back to the blog next week to read an interview with Anand Iyer, Threadflip’s CPO.


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