Citi Bike Onboarding

The newly redesigned Citi Bike onboarding at Madison Square Park, NYC.

The newly redesigned Citi Bike onboarding at Madison Square Park, NYC.

Business goal:
Increase ridership amongst
first-time users, especially tourists

Success metric:
Lift in 24-hour passes and 7-day passes
or known as their ‘casual members’

After extensive quantitative research and better understanding the Citi Bike ecosystem with key stakeholders, we embarked on a 2 month redesign of the kiosk stations.

Within 6 months, Citi Bike relaunched the new onboarding flow across 330+ kiosk stations in August 2014

Annual membership was rising much faster than casual membership (24-hour passes and 7-day passes) and Citi Bike stakeholders wanted to learn why and what could be done.

We shadowed and interviewed people using Citi Bike for the first time to understand and learn their pain points. We visited many of the Manhattan stations to used it for ourselves to be in the shoes of first-time users and to observe foot traffic.

First Deliverable:
We shared out the research findings and opportunities areas, as well as wireframes and mocks to Citi Bike stakeholders. The presentation culminated in this story of two potential Citi Bike customers and what a new onboarding experience onto Citi Bike could look like.

The opportunity:
We knew an immediate win for Citi Bike would be to relook at the onboarding of first time users, which meant redesigning the kiosk sticker that is displayed at 330+ kiosk stations.

We had observed that the kiosk station was potential customers’ first touch point with Citi Bike. Thus, if they did not understand the instructions and the payment model, we had already lost them as customers.

Insights from the data:
We parsed Citi Bike's public system data, to find that casual ridership was highest on weekends and located the most popular first-time user stations.

Research findings:  
  • Frustrated and felt unsure of what to do first
  • Overwhelmed by the length of the overall process
  • Hesitation to try out, due to the hefty $100 hold on cc
  • Screens seemed unresponsive
  • Pressure to understand the system right away
  • Confused on how to undock the bike
  • Time limit and countdown to obtain a bike is overwhelming

#1: Single-day and one-week passes can only be purchased at a physical Citi Bike kiosk, which tends to attracts long lines.

#2: Once a user gets over the hurdle of purchasing a pass, the instructions on how to obtain a bike is confusing.

#3: The pricing model was a major point of confusion, especially those unfamiliar with bike share programs. This put a heavy barrier to entry for new users.

#4: The onboarding assumes that users are fluent in English and have the time to read through a lot of instructions. 

Success criteria:
We knew our redesign needed to answer these 3 key questions:

  1. What do you get with a one-time pass? With a 7-day pass?

  2. How long can I ride for?

  3. And how do I get my bike out?

We sketched and whiteboarded how to explain the different payment models, as well as simplifying the instructions on how to undock a bike. With only the text, we did a card sort of all the words that were on the display.

Paper prototyping and usability testing:
Once we flushed out 3 design directions, we stuck our paper prototypes at highly visited Citi Bike kiosk stations. Also, we evangelized Citi Bike's outreach ambassadors team to conduct research for us, by testing out 3 different pricing models.

We decided we wanted to use a more universal language to explain how the Citi Bike system works—taking an IKEA approach with instructional illustrations to replace much of the copy.

Citi Bike and NYC's Department of Transportation (DOT) approved and relaunched the new onboarding in August of 2014 across 330+ Citi Bike kiosk stations.

Citi Bike's data 2014 Q3

Citi Bike's data 2014 Q3

Because Citi Bike publicly publishes their ridership data, we were able to track if there was an increase in first-time users
after the launch. We found a month after launch, ridership amongst one-time users increased by 14% (compared to the previous month).

In July, the month prior to the design launch, there were 42,300 one day memberships and 3,530 seven day memberships. During the month of install, there were 48,086 one day memberships and 3,658 seven day memberships in August 2014.

Before (left) and after (right): Final design of Citi Bike kiosk sticker

We presented at BetaNYC's Citi Bike showcase held at NYU Wagner School, the Rudin Center for Transportation. Our segment can be seen here

Invited by the U.S. Department of State, we gave a presentation at the Innovation in Design: Creative Economy
Briefing Series to an audience of foreign press. You can find our presentation here.

Citi Bike
The New York Times
Next City
The School of Visual Arts

Citi Biki at Madison Square Park, NYC

Citi Biki at Madison Square Park, NYC