Explorers Club for SMC
As a design challenge we created a club for Santa Monica College students that creates loyal customers for Bird by supporting students values and experiences.
Bird Rides, Inc.
Stakeholder Interviews, Expert Interviews, Secondary Research, Primary Research, Prototyping and Testing.
Project Manager, UX Designer
Ivan De la Rosa, Laura Nielson
“How might we design a sustainable and equitable Bird loyalty program for students at Santa Monica College?”
In this challenge, we were to consider how students use e-scooters and to empathize with them to better understand their needs and challenges. However, there were a few constraints as e-scooters are not allowed on campus, and we were to design outside of the app and within the ecosystem of Santa Monica College.
In our interview with Bird, we learned they currently do not have loyalty programs, which is one of the reasons why they want to explore this idea. Also, they are looking for a way to make their product equitable, meaning that there would be options for participation for all incomes and abilities. Their goal is to create brand loyalty, super users, and advocates for Bird Rides Inc. Also, they are committed to safety and educating users on safe riding practices.
Bird Rides Inc.
Santa Monica College
Santa Monica Community
Identifying User Needs
As current students, we needed to identify other needs we share to understand how it affects our choices in choosing products. After conducting a brainstorm session, we came to create a diagram that describes the different needs of students aside from transportation. We found other needs for students in areas of education, safety, financial, and basic human needs.
I began my research by first observing Bird e-scooters at Santa Monica College. Observing users interacting with Bird e-scooters was a great way to understand how students used Bird e-scooters and to some extent, the overall user experience. I expected students to use designated parking areas for e-scooters and follow campus rules. However, I found that many of them dropped them anywhere that seemed convenient and hardly follow any rules.
Following my observations, I recruited students for my research and ensured that I had selected a relevant sample size of my user base to make my results meaningful. After screening students through a survey, a total of 6 students were interviewed. The goal of my interview was to understand how students use e-scooters and what matters to them when attending Santa Monica College.
New and current SMC students look for opportunities to meet new people that share the same values. Also, many of them are not local and often look for cheap and reliable transportation to discover Santa Monica and share experiences on social media. After interviewing several students, a problem statement was defined.
How might we create value in-still belonging and encourage safe riding etiquette?
“Have been to other countries but the city skyscrapers made you feel small. In LA I feel like I am something. There are so many amazing people I want to meet.”
“Customers always look at the affordability of scooters some riders are frequent riders should get free rides.”
“It seems like half the people that use it, don’t respect the bikers, the pedestrians, the card. And they are in the way all the time.”
The big idea was to create a fun event to gauge interest in creating a club that uses e-scooters to help educate students about safe riding while meeting new people who share similar values. With the help of local businesses and Santa Monica Spoke, we provided food and drinks and education about safe riding to students. We received food from Whole Foods 365 and Asian Box and free bikes and scooters from Breeze Bikes and Lyft. Our team had reached out to Bird for support, but unfortunately, they were unable to deliver. However, the event still went on without a hitch.
We talked to students to get their feedback at the event, and what we learned was that students wanted more than just an e-scooter club. They want to use different methods of micro-mobility to include walking and hiking. Students want to discover Santa Monica outside the campus life and be adventurous. They also want to part of something right in the community. In addition, our sponsors saw an opportunity to promote safety while promoting their brands. Students became a common platform for connecting companies like Bird with the community through a partnership with local businesses.
There is an opportunity for Bird to sponsor a club that supports all types of sustainable micro-mobility in partnerships with local businesses. Many students reached out to us after the event with inquiries about possible future events and to take on leadership positions. With sponsors on board with the club concept, the club only needed a buy-in from Bird to bring the club to life.
Facilitating future events
To facilitate future club events, I have created a flow diagram that shows our steps to organizing our club event. This diagram can be used as a guide for other similar club functions and provides a broader look at what can be a complex and difficult task to achieve.
At our final presentation, we communicated to Bird the needs of the students to be part of a club that includes different modes of transportation to include walking and hiking — besides, the opportunity to partner with local businesses that are already on board with this concept. We have re-named our club concept from the Riders Club to the Explorers Club. The club will need support from Bird by providing free or discounted scooters through the club loyalty program and also by distinguishing club ambassadors that can promote safe riding and recruit new members.
Feedback from Bird
You had some great insights that you uncovered in your research, i.e. the fact that students love riding together not just because it’s fun but because they feel safer and more visible to traffic in a group. Super interesting!
I’d challenge you to think about big-picture scalability here - the prompt is focused on SMC, but if we were to implement something like the Explorers Club it might be part of a bigger strategy for colleges/students in general and not restricted to SMC. How could you continue iterating on this idea and think about how it would work logistically for schools beyond SMC, and still be sustainable and manageable for Bird? Also, what kind of “prototype” could you create for something like this and how would you test it with potential users?
This project started as being fun and exciting. However, having many stakeholders at once with different goals made it very difficult to share one goal with the students’ needs in mind. As UX designers, we tried to stay true to the project brief. However, the brief slowly shape itself almost entirely into something different based on our research. Therefore, the main takeaway from this project is to be flexible and stand behind your user. Innovation does not begin from the client's goals; it begins with the user.