28 Jul 2016

How ideas become product features at car2go

When car2go first launched in Ulm in 2008, it was the perfect example of how a big, bold idea can be brought to life. The concept of free-floating, on-demand carsharing began as just a dream, but by building on a series of small, actionable ideas, that dream made it to reality.

Since those early days, we have added to that first big idea to further improve and evolve the car2go concept. By using a few simple techniques, we are able to take big ideas from brainstorming sessions to the streets.

Being Agile

The car2go Product Creation team brings big ideas to life with the agile method of development. By using agile, we continuously improve the car2go user experience by stressing user centered design, building new features iteratively and openly communicating to internal and external users.

Finding inspiration

Agile development starts with idea generation and collection. Ideas are big or small, local or global, and can come from just about anywhere, but most ideas come from trying to solve a problem. Constant contact with car2go members, internal teams, and business partners connects us to our users’ needs, which leads to improvements of the car2go experience.

We keep a close eye on the industry as a whole and future concepts to make sure our ideas are aligned with market trends and at the forefront of the mobility segment. And of course, we have lots of firsthand experience as car2go users ourselves.

Why we create

When working through an idea, the most important question we ask is “why?” This allows us to cut down to the core of what we’re trying to solve, and to create the best “how and what” in any given solution. Lately, we’ve heard from members that it can be difficult to find our cars in crowded parking spots or in designated garages, like at the airport.

This is especially true when a specific car2go is reserved. To solve this problem, we needed to build an easy way to locate a specific, reserved vehicle. The “why” in this case is to avoid the dreaded “needle in a haystack” feeling.

From big ideas to small bites

As we collect ideas, we constantly analyze and break them down into actionable pieces of work. Afterall, the best way to eat an elephant is in small bites. Once big ideas are broken down, we create “features” and “user stories” with our internal teams to make sure the “what and how” is accurately described and defined.

We then compare any new feature to our overall list of ideas (called a backlog) to make sure we’re actively working on the most impactful ones first.  Solutions must be brought to life as efficiently as possible, so constantly scoring and prioritizing the backlog lets us stay focused on the most current problems.

Seeking solutions

In the example of making our cars easier to find, our goal was to allow selection of a specific vehicle in the app with real-time, dynamic feedback to the user about where it’s parked. After designing and testing concepts, we settled on the ability to flash the lights of a reserved vehicle via an in-app button.

Illuminating breakthrough

As we expand the number of special parking locations and introduce new types of vehicles, being able to easily find a specific, reserved car2go is more important than ever. This added emphasis helped us to move the vehicle finder feature higher up in our backlog, and ultimately, faster to the streets.

Ideas welcomed

We welcome feedback and need people to test early versions of our product through our beta-community! Simply email us to the following address and we’ll send you an invitation asap: app@car2go.com.

For Android it’s even simpler, just follow the instructions from this link.

So we’d like to know: what new feature would you love to see in the car2go app next and why?