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Bringing Ride-Hailing to Vancouver

About the Project

Vancouver is the last major city in North America without ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft on the roads. Kater worked with the the BC government and the passenger transportation board to bring a hybrid solution to the city.

As the Lead UX/UI designer for a small team, I had the responsibility of combining the users needs with those of the business for the entire suite of Kater products.

Please note, while I worked on many projects within Kater, this case study will focus on the client app. Also, due to an NDA only publicly available assets can be shown.

Kater Technologies Inc.
Lead UX/UI Designer
Live Site
Get the App
Kater Client App


Finding the Real Problems in Vancouver

Public transportation in Vancouver had its share of issues and the public wasn't shy about how they felt. Our goal was to find what was causing those problems. Using social media, available government reports, and talking to users within the city, we found the following:


Available Solutions Elsewhere

With the local options falling short of user needs, our team decided to research apps available in other cities to find a better option. We traveled to Seattle, Portland, and Edmonton to try ride hailing options available there. We used many apps, but the two main apps we tested for reference were Uber and Lyft.

  • Industry leader in the ride-hail space.
  • Offers plenty of solutions to users such as multiple stops, pooling rides, and variety of vehicle types.
  • Some issues with customer safety.

  • Fun brand with great in-car amenities.
  • Simple, easy to use app for users to request a ride.
  • Generally positive interactions with the drivers.

The Business Proposal

Before we could start designing a solution, we needed to understand the business proposal to the government. If we designed a solution with all the bells and whistles, but didn't match what the business was offering, it would be useless.

Parts of the proposal that relate to the Kater client app.

Based on this proposal, we knew the scope of our MVP was up to 200 vehicles and that riders can only request trips through the app. Now to find the simplest solutions for a complicated problem.

Kater Client Screens

Defining the MVP

Simple App, Fun Ride

More than anything, the riders needed to get to their destination quick and safely. The app needed to provide the trip details to their driver, then have the driver provide a positive experience in the vehicle.

The rider app was broken into three main stages: requesting, riding, and after a trip.

Requesting a Trip

We went through many iterations of the request trip flow. One of our initial ideas was a three step process with the idea of getting the user to complete their request as fast possible. This flow was like other ride-hail apps we used and thought it made sense to not bombard the user with so many taps to complete the request.

Requesting A Trip - Initial Idea

Step 1: 
Set Your Destination
Pickup location was assumed to be the current location.
Step 2: 
Select Your Vehicle Type
Choose between the available Kater vehicle types and confirm payment type
Step 3: 
Request Trip
The app will now find the closest available driver to your location.

User Feedback

"How do I set up my pick up location?"
"Which pin is the pick up location vs the destination?"
"I didn't expect it request it already at that point."
"Was I charged?"

Our testing proved that local users were not ready for a streamlined flow as shown above. Other apps can provide these shortcuts because they've trained their users to set the pickup and confirm the payment information in previous versions.

Those who were new to this service wanted to confirm their pickup location and verify their payment method in the process. Our team had plenty of discussions on if it was better to teach users the streamlined flow versus asking for more steps.

We decided to break the flow down into five steps for the MVP, with a plan to transition to a faster booking process as users become more comfortable.

Requesting A Trip - Iterated Flow

Step 1: 
Set Your Pick Up Location
The user can manually enter, move a pin, or use their current location.
Step 2: 
Set Your Destination
The user can manually enter or move a pin to set destination.
Step 3: 
Select Vehicle Type
Select from a list of available vehicles for your ride.
Step 4:
Confirm Payment Method
Use their saved card or add a new card to pay for the trip with.
Step 5:
Request Trip
The app will now find the closest available driver to your location.

User Feedback

"Simple process, asked for everything I thought I needed."
"Wish it was a little faster, but easy to understand."
"Great experience."

Riding on a Trip

The rider needs to know what to look for and when to expect the pickup. Based on our research, it was rare for a rider to spend time staring at the device watching the vehicle come their way. To help those riders who put their device down after requesting the trip, SMS notifications were added at different times.

Thanks to these notifications, trip cancellations during the arrival stage of a trip have dropped compared to trips taken in the current taxi model.

For those users that prefer to view the trip live as it happens, they can track their driver's location within the app. The vehicle icon updates and the location data is accurate within 5 seconds on average. The pins list the estimated time of arrival. The user can view this in the trip details when they scroll the cards as well. The user is always aware of when they should reach their destination.

Trip Details CardTrip Details Card Scrolled

In The Vehicle

Kater offers vehicles that are 2018 or newer, cleaned by our service team as required, and come with complimentary Flow Water. Some options even come with massage chairs or a personal Kateroke machine to sing on the ride!

Kateroke especially has been a massive hit with many of our riders.

The Standard Kater CarFlow Water in the CarKater Spa Massage ChairsKateroke!

After the Trip

Now that the trip is over, the user can thank their driver and step out of the vehicle. No need to spend time digging in their wallet for cash or hoping the debit machine works.

The app will prompt the user to rate and tip their driver. If they ignore the alerts, the next time they open the app they will see the option again. They can also always go into their trip invoice and add a tip or rate the driver anytime.

Check out a basic version of the after trip flow below. All Kater features are placed in a flow like the one below when handing off to the developers to build.

After a Trip Flow


Kater in the Wild!


The Kater client app has completed tens of thousands of trips for thousands of users since its launch in April 2019. Considering the fleet size and limited service area, this has been a glowing success within the team.

It has had its share of challenges: the map and routing service has its issues causing delays in trip duration; the limited fleet available, and overcoming the public perception of taxis are a few. Yet, our team is retrieving feedback and always searching for solutions to improve the service for our users. This research has created a pipeline of new features we are excited to offer users in the near future.

With the problems outlined earlier - drivers declining long trips, being unable to track the location of your driver, and difficulties finding ways home late at night - the Kater app has created a solution that has been an improvement in all aspects for users in Vancouver.

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