Lyft case study

A new product line-up to fit your riding preference


Lyft Inc. is an app which offers a transportation service for private drivers and riders between two locations. Each client is different, which makes every trip unique. However, this diversity is hard to identify for drivers prior to meeting the passenger.

The goal for this project was to improve the overall rider experience by letting the passenger adjust their ride preferences in the app settings. The driver will be informed prior to arrival if e.g. the passenger would like to have a chat, listen to the radio, and much more…

  • Having a smoother riding journey
  • More comfortability driving with strangers

Sector: Vehicle, Technology, Software—Application

My role: Prototyping & Usability testing, User Research, Storyboards & User Personas


Lyft Inc. is an app which offers a transportation service for private drivers and riders between two locations. Their rapid expansion around the US and their numerous investments, allowed the startup to offer lower prices for riders and cutting commissions for drivers.

Today the business is valued $23 billion, runs in 300 US cities and is available in Canada, since 2017. Their product selection now includes e-bikes and e-scooters. 

 → More about Lyft

My role

Experience Strategy

In order to convert ideas, gain orientation and drive decision making, I developed a prototype. This aided to mirror design principles, share my vision and a content strategy for personalized rides.  

Planning & Scoping

This idea was developed to enhance the overall customer experience and balance business goals. Thereby, I prioritized the most common emotions during a Lyft ride for the feature.   

Design Execution & Validation

Throughout this process I executed user journeys, competitive analysis, prototyping and UI designs.

Problem identification

After doing more research on the app and reviewing blogs and customer feedback, I uncovered pain points by individuals. It was revealed that:

  • Users aren’t able to adjust their settings for a more comfortable riding experience
  • Each client is different, making every trip unique and hard to identify prior to meeting the passenger
  • The uncertainty of how to approach the customer
  • From a rider’s perspective, there are cases of discomfort towards the driver. These feelings are hard to express loudly.
  • Especially women, who find themselves often in a flirty situation, drivers become too personal


Lyft’s biggest rival in the USA is Uber, who have recently launched a feature offering ride preferences like:

  • A “quiet mode” for their Uber Black customers
  • Temperature setting
  • Luggage Assistance
  • Gender preference of driver (only available in Saudi Arabia)

An American start-up has women’s best interest at heart. The ridesharing app offers:

  • Gender preference of drivers
  • SOS button (notifies 911 immediately to prevent more assaults on women)

Opponents have adapted to the market fast in order to create the best possible journey. Many features and settings have been introduced and Lyft should be part of this trend.


Stakeholders might not be able to influence the app itself, however are responsible for pushing the firm to more success and continuous growth. This also has an impact on the stock market and their shareholders, who make investments towards the company. Shareholders aid in financing the business and are a large part of future choices and innovations. Currently the founders of Lyft hold the biggest part of shares in their firm, thus Alphabet and General Motors also have significant holdings.

Aims and Objectives

The aim of this new feature is to elevate the overall rider experience, by letting the Lyft user set and adjust their current preference, without communicating this directly to the driver. This should aid to make a trip more comfortable while driving with a stranger.


Long-term goal

  • Create an algorithm that makes predictions to real-time emotions users have
  • App suggestions a “mood” based on most visited places and time

For example a rider saved her work and home address and takes a Lyft back from work at the same time. She always has the preference to listen to music at this specific time and route. However, using her real time “mood”, which could perhaps bee stressed, would then be temporary instead of fixed.



…at a major fashion brand in London. This is her first job after university and she is very keen to work there. She lives on the outskirts of London and her job is located in the center. Thereby she is forced to take the subway or bus into work. After a busy day, she sometimes treats herself to an Uber ride home.

Florence also likes to travel a lot and has recently been in the USA for 2 months. During her time travelling, money was always an aspect, of which she had to keep track of. She used her savings to fly to America. While vacationing overseas, she got familiar with the competitive ridesharing service Lyft. Florence is a money conscious individual who tries to find the cheapest option possible. Most of the times she utilizes ridesharing platforms for longer distance trips and compares the two apps for the cheapest price.


…works in a small town near Cologne. He is a very technically conscious man for his age and is always aware of new trends. His work is located in an industrial area, where he is required to drive his car to and from work. Besides that, he is often on business trips to various countries. Arno is familiar with the ride-hailing service Uber, which he uses quite commonly when he arrives at international airports. Time is very valuable for him, whereas money is a secondary priority. Additionally, he chooses the most convenient and comfortable method for him, which is Uber. Even though his travels often involve flying to the US, where Lyft is available, he has never used them. Yet, there was no need for him to download the competitor’s app, since Uber is available in more countries than Lyft.


…He is a student majoring in Applied Computing in England. He enjoys going out with his friends on the weekends and loves to travel and explore new countries. Being a student in a foreign country means for Just that money is very important. He wants to have fun during his time in England, but at the same time he is conscious on how much he spends each month. Since Just is living in the UK without a car, he chooses ridesharing services to move around town or after a night out.

Just has been to the USA several times, but has not himself booked a Lyft ride to his destination. Many times he will compare Uber and Lyft with the help of a travel companion, to find the cheapest way around the city. Just did rent an e-scooter on one of his trips, since this was a faster and less expensive option provided by Lyft.


…completing her Master’s degree in Southampton. She often drives to university by car. In her spare time, Becky likes to go out and meet her friends for a night out. Since she lives on the outskirts of Southampton, she usually takes the train into the city at night. Due to the fact that public transportation is not available after a certain time, Becky often schedules an Uber. As a young women at night, she prefers to choose a safe way to drive back home.

While traveling in Europe, Becky was on a budget which she decided on prior to her trip. Even though money was not an issue, she was still keen to utilize cheaper ways of transportation. Some countries did not provide familiar services, so she used similar ones where she had had a positive experience.


…in a town near Cologne. Her way to work is only a 10 minute ride away, but she is dependent on having a car where she lives. Ann is a not very good with technology and relies heavily on the help of others, concerning this topic. Thereby, she uses more traditional methods for transportation, which have to be a good price value.

During school holidays she travels a lot to visit her family in the USA, where she was born.
Since she is familiar with the airports and routes, she often rents a car which is more convenient for her. When she flies to larger cities, like New York City with the intention to stay there for a couple of days, she will use either buses, subways or airport shuttle services to the hotel. Ann has never utilized a ridesharing app by herself, however is willing to change this if it is the more convenient or cheaper way to move around.

User groups

The user groups of Lyft can be divided into two sections: direct and indirect users. These individuals have different interests and characteristics, but at the same time are involved with the app. A direct user primarily interacts with the program. An “Indirect user experience is defined as a person’s perceptions and responses that result from another user’s use of a product, system or service.”.

Direct users

Today, social media platforms play a significant role in society. Lyft utilizes their channels to communicate their service through this. Followers can receive information, contact customer service or attend events on a 24/7 basis. Influencers have a high engagement rate to promote Lyft’s material and therefore target a broader audience. This way Lyft can spread news by letting ambassadors advertise for them.

Drivers are the most important employees of the enterprise. They are in direct contact with the passenger and can lastly create a positive or negative riding experience. As a direct user group, they are responsible to broadcast messages and information to clients.

Indirect users

With over 23 million active users, Lyft has a large market share. Their indirect users are Americans and Canadians, countries where the app is available. Even tourists that occasionally visit North America, are still considered an indirect user. They may not interact with the app on a daily basis, but are aware of it when visiting.

Developers, Engineers and Designers are all positions which are directly involved with the interface. Their daily interaction with the app to improve, fix, maintain and modify it makes them primary users. Managers that make executive decisions on market implementation or strategies, belong to a different division within the company, but are still in contact with the product continuously.

Usability test design

In order to recognize if the prototype would be successful, a usability test was designed. An inductive approach was chosen for this, for the following reasons:

  1. The prototype includes a new feature
  2. More flexibility during the usability testing
  3. The focus lies on qualitative data
  4. It’s a time-sensitive service

During the testing, the participants should focus mainly on their tasks. The observer will take notes and after the session is completed, she will question users depending on the choices and decisions they made. This approach is known as the retrospective probing. After finishing each assignment, the volunteer will be asked to rate the difficulty of the task.

Overall, choosing this approach also means that testers will be able to think more divergently. Besides, it would give the tester the freedom to voice his/her opinion and make the prototype succeed.

Task overview

  1. Please select the „mood“ feature
  2. Please enable the conversation mood
  3. Go back to the first screen and add a destination
  4. View your current mood and go back to the previous screen to continue your ride request

Measuring success

The result should illustrate a combination of satisfaction and effectiveness for the volunteers, when testing the prototype. According to the ISO having a goal in mind while using this strategy would help to improve the overall result for the researcher, while making it more comprehensive for the tester.

Desirable user journey for functionality

The outcome

The prototype allowed testers to set their mood for the upcoming ride. Depending on real-time emotions, users can set and adjust different moods without communicating this to their driver.

Thereby, the testing identified the following:

  1.  Change icon color on the map
  2.  Highlight the active state more
  3.  Include a tutorial for the new feature

Metrics results

Positive outlook

Overall, every proband enjoyed the option to set their preferences for their trip. Even though this is a hypothetical idea, the enterprise should consider developing something like this in the near future. Many of their competitors are already adapting their apps to suit customers’ needs. The goal is to make every journey as comfortable and personalized as possible, because every user has a different preference.

How it to works

This feature was created to enhance the transportation experience specifically for the rider. It should help to make the journey more comfortable when driving with a stranger. In order to enhance this experience, the user will have to click on their settings to activate and adjust their current riding preference, referred to as “mood”.

Check out the options

Currently, the prototype only provides five “moods” for the user to select from. Each one of them was specifically designed to capture a feeling that could make the tour more relaxing and enjoyable.

Once the preference is activated, it will be saved and the user can go back to request a ride. A small icon will then pop-up on the map, when waiting at the location for the next pick-up, that illustrates the selected preference. It also serves as a short cut to access the settings and adjust these if necessary. 


I don’t mind small talk during my Lyft ride.


I would like to listen to the radio.


I have headphones with me and would like to listen to my music quietly.

City insider

New to the city? By activating this mood you can get insider tips or a quick tour by your local driver.


I do not speak the national language.

User feedback

"Highlight the new feature icons on the map with a different color" 
"How many combinations can I enable during one trip?"
"Add a one-time tutorial to introduce the mood feature"

Skills incorperated

Gaining more confidence in wireframing and rapid prototyping was a priority for me. To achieve this, I addressed customer pain-points, which were related to the discovery experience. During this project I was able to build a realistic concept based on Lyft’s UI, which was tested by a small audience.  

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