Behind the scenes: The story behind the updated Passport Parking app

This week, Passport launched a completely redesigned version of the Passport Parking app. We sat down with Rob Luke, head of design, to talk about the process of reimagining our widely-used mobile app to improve the design and user experience.

How did the transformation begin?

Rob Luke: We started by listening to feedback from our clients and users, and evaluating the market to identify areas of improvement. We brought together a focused team, including design, product, marketing and engineering, to create a plan to incorporate feedback and build a new version of the app. From there, our internal team worked diligently to bring new ideas to life, creating wireframes, designing new features and solving problems.

What were the key areas you chose to focus on?

RL: When starting the redesign, we had three main objectives in mind:

  1. Upgrade the app with the most cutting edge design and technology, with the ultimate goal of making it easier for users to park
  2. Give users the right information at the right time, including unprecedented transparency on current and future parking rates, restrictions and rules
  3. Streamline the process for developing tailored apps so our clients can operate more efficiently and launch their applications faster

The look and feel of the updated app is an upgrade from the previous version. What were the major upgrades you made from a design perspective?

RL: Users will notice right away that the design is much more deliberate and clean, creating a better user experience. We also wanted to simplify the process to pay to park even more. With the new design, we are leading the industry by using progressive profiling and only asking users for the necessary information to start a parking session. We reduced the number of taps to start a parking session from 27 to as few as five, a huge improvement that will save users time. We’ve also improved the experience with existing features such as remote session extension, parking history and receipts, and notifications when a parking session is about to end. Users can also easily switch to multiple language options when using the app, making it as easy as possible to pay for parking.

The parking rate picker is a unique feature of the updated app, allowing users to easily see how much their parking sessions would cost based on the amount of time, along with any future changes in rates or regulations. How did you go about building that?

RL: The rate picker was a key element of the new release. It was the most fun thing to design, but posed many challenges. We tested many versions and a lot of them broke once we started to plug in real data, but eventually we figured out a simple solution. I kept thinking about a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Once we stripped it down to only the essential pieces, we knew we were done. During user feedback tests it was great to hear what a difference the new rate picker makes in the experience. Users expressed content with the fact that this is the first app that gives them complete transparency of current and future parking rates and regulations so they can make the best decision for themselves.  

It’s an exciting process to reimagine the app, build new features and have control over the final design. What do you want users to say about the new version of Passport Parking?

RL: Earlier in my career, I would have wanted users to notice the beautiful design and all the work that went into making the app attractive and fun to use. But, great design is invisible and it shouldn’t be the focus. I want users to find the design intuitive and think, “Wow! I didn’t realize paying to park could be so easy!” With the convenience of the app, users can worry less about parking and can enjoy themselves while eating a meal with friends, attending a meeting or shopping without having to go back to their car to refill the meter.

When will the updated app be available to everyone?

RL: We are doing a phased roll-out of the Passport Parking app, first on Android and then iOS. We expect that everyone will have the updated app by the end of the year.

What’s next for the Passport Parking app?

RL: The initial release of the new app is only the beginning and there are many more features and innovations to come. As new modes of transportation and technologies are introduced and people find new ways to move around cities, Passport is working closely with our clients to provide a platform that gives them everything they need to manage their entire mobility operation from a single place. The updated app is one piece of this solution and we are continuing to design products that meet the needs of our clients and users today, but will allow us to easily adapt and change with future innovations.