Rice Apps relaunches its mobile ridesharing site

Cali Liu / drummer

By Allison He 03/08/22 11:27 PM

As school holidays and seasonal vacations approach, the need to travel to and from the airport also increases. Previous years have seen a shared spreadsheet among students hoping to find rides. But the reissue rice carpool The site offers the Rice community an easy way to find and coordinate rides on their phone.

According to Amber Liu, a freshman at Wiess College, the worksheet for coordinating trips was often disorganized.

“There were a bunch of tabs, and everyone was basically adding columns to the spreadsheet. It was very messy,” Liu said. order at all.”

Rice Carpool, a student-designed, mobile-focused website developed by Rice applicationshopes to provide a solution for students like Liu, according to Shreya Nidadavolu, Wiess senior and Carpool project manager.

This is the third version of Carpool released by Rice Apps. Nidadavolu said the main change to the Carpool site is that it is now more mobile-friendly. The team focused on developing the mobile view because the developers anticipated that users would likely use the app on their phones, according to Will Rice College junior and team leader Carpool Henry Qin.

“Honestly, no one will be at Rice’s house waiting for an Uber with their laptop,” Qin said. “They’re going to use their phone for stuff like that.”

Qin said users can engage with Carpool by joining an existing ride or, if the user can’t find a ride with their preferred time and destination, by creating a ride. He said that after a user joins a ride, the owner of that ride receives access to the user’s contact information and can coordinate the ride from there.

“When you create a ride, it appears in the rides list, then as a separate user, you can join the ride. When you do, your name will be listed in the riders list,” Qin said. What the host does is they can click on your name and they will be able to see your phone number…your Venmo if you entered it…your name, residential college and email. so many ways to contact you.

William Yao, another Will Rice senior and carpool team leader, said a filtering system makes the process of finding and creating a ride more efficient. According to Yao, users can select and combine filter categories such as departure location, arrival location and date to generate a list of rides that meets their needs.

“We want people to join each other’s rides, that’s right, so we give them the option to see all the rides first and filter the rides they want to see,” Yao said.

The developers weren’t the only ones facilitating Rice Carpool’s goal of generating a positive user experience. As designers, Katherine Chui and Jessica Huang said they were focused on fixing design issues from previous iterations and creating components that were easy to navigate.

Chui, a sophomore at Jones College who joined the Carpool team last summer, said that in addition to designing a filtering system that would make the app active, she was working to ensure that users avoid feeling stuck on a certain page as users of older versions. did.

“You don’t want users to feel stuck, like they’ve clicked and they’re stuck and can’t go back,” Chui said.

Huang, a second-year student at Wiess, said she was soliciting user feedback on what design components could be improved.

“I did a lot of usability testing with different users to see if there was [were] all the domains [where] they got stuck or confused and didn’t know how to approach a button or find something on the screen,” Huang said.

Liu, who used Carpool to arrange a carpool to the airport for upcoming spring break, said the app’s design was easy for her to understand.

“I think it’s a very simple design. Very easy to navigate,” Liu said. “It didn’t take me long to figure out what I was doing.”

Edward Chen, a sophomore at Martel College, said he used Rice Carpool to split the fare for a ride from the airport after spring break and paired a ride with another user.

“It’s a simple app, and that’s what’s great about it,” Chen said. “You go there and look for rides in order of time, and you just see if one works for you. If not, create one and let other people join.

On the first day of Carpool’s launch, March 1, 2022, 800 people visited the website and 100 users signed up, according to Qin. He said previous Rice Apps projects he developed had delayed launches and weren’t really being used, so seeing hundreds signing up with Carpool filled him with pride.

“It was a really good time,” Qin said. “Every page you see was designed by our designers Katherine and Jessica, and every feature you use [were] coded by our developers.

Nidadavolu said that in addition to celebrating the launch of Carpool, it is already thinking about features that can be added to Carpool, such as Venmo and group chat.

“In the future, maybe we want to integrate things like Venmo, so you can pay people directly through our website. [or] forming the group chat that people use to communicate where they are or where they want to meet for their commute,” Nidadavolu said.

More location options, collaborative driving notes, a dark mode and a more polished desktop mode are other features Nidadavolu said it hopes to add to the site.

“Beyond airports, we definitely see a need to go to grocery stores or maybe concerts or events,” Nidadavolu said. “I’m going to a Conan Gray concert today. I’m like, ‘Hm, I want to find people to carpool with.’ »

Editor’s note: Katherine Chui is Thresher’s feature designer.

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