18 April 2017 – Last week, Information Systems PhD student and teaching assistant Upasna Bhandari won the User Experience Southeast Asia (UXSEA) Mobile App Design Challenge.

The organiser, UXSEA Society, is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to raise the awareness and practice of user experience across businesses, professionals and academia in the region. Participants were tasked to improve the design of ride-hailing apps Grab, Uber, or Indonesia-based GO-JEK, by designing a new feature to satisfy an unmet need or redesigning the interface to solve a particular problem.

It was Upasna’s interest in understanding IT users’ behaviours and improving their user experience of products that motivated her to participate in this challenge. Outlining a common problem that users of ride-hailing apps face, she said, “Let’s say you’re doing a cab booking on an app which requires you to fill out a certain number of fields when you’re interrupted by a knock on the door and then a WhatsApp message from a friend. When you return to the booking (if you do remember to return at all), you will spend some time remembering where you were and how far you have progressed in the booking process.” Upasna added that her entry focused on providing post-interruption visual design support, which ensures that the app’s design facilitates the quick recovery of the booking process from any interruption. She elaborated, “One such example would be to hide fields that users have already filled out, while still offering them the option of going back and editing the data. This can help users quickly get back to the booking and finish it with ease and efficiency.”

Upasna believed that her solution stood out because of its simplicity and effectiveness. “It is a low-cost alternative to technical solutions which can take longer to implement,” she added. She was awarded a cash prize of $88 for coming in first in this challenge but to her, the real reward was “improving the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) of online transportation apps and making companies take note of alternative design solutions.”