We conducted six informal interviews with mobile workers. The goal of these interviews was to learn more about their experiences and use of technology while traveling and working.
Our participants ranged in age from 21-54, used both smartphones (4) and feature phones (2), were from locations across the United States, and had a number of different occupations (educational consultant, journalist, letter carrier, wildlife monitor, and IT consultant).
Most of our participants did not consider themselves to be "mobile workers" and were not familiar with the term.
Because most mobile applications focus on one particular aspect of work-related travel, they can be difficult to use on the go.
Our participants talked about using a variety of different resources to help plan their day, including friends, coworkers, and review sites.
Though almost all of our participants spoke about having a schedule planned in advance, their schedule often changed unexpectedly.
Eric Sanchez, 23
Recent Graduate and Actor
Eric is a recent college graduate, having graduated three months ago after receiving a degree in Drama from UCLA. He is currently living with his parents in the suburbs, about 30 miles from Los Angeles.
As a young graduate, Eric is avidly pursuing acting auditions and attending dance and acting classes to hone his skills. As a result, he frequently drives to different locations in Los Angeles to go to auditions and his classes.
Because the auditions happen in a variety of locations around L.A., Eric relies on his phone to help him navigate to new, unfamiliar places. Additionally, Eric uses his phone to help him find healthy places to eat while waiting for auditions or his classes to start.
Maxine Sanders, 28
Flower Delivery Person
Maxine works for a flower delivery shop in New York. She's been working at the flower shop for about six years, delivering flowers for most of that time. Her aging boss plans to retire soon, and she hopes to take over the shop. She recently started taking night classes in business at CUNY Hunter.
Maxine's daily routine involves planning her flower delivery route in the morning, and then spending most of the day out on her bike making deliveries.
Sometimes traffic is unusually good, and she runs ahead of schedule. She likes to use this time to finish some homework, but often she finds herself in an unfamiliar neighborhood and isn't sure where to find a place to work that has wifi or coffee.
Planning your day
Hugh Galbo, 43, is a realtor in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Today he has 3 houses to show across the city. His first showing goes very well, and his potential buyers are ready to discuss their terms. But because Hugh is fairly new to Albuquerque, he realizes he doesn't know where to take his buyers to have this discussion.
Although Hugh has a smart phone, he worries that it might seem unprofessional to his customers to look for a site in front of them. Hugh pretends he has a spot in mind, and instructs his potential buyers to follow him in their car. While driving, he uses the Yelp app to find the closest coffee shop, and heads there.
He realizes he should have planned such meeting places before leaving the office. Using Travelogue, Hugh would have been able to enter his itinerary in advance and later have access to a list of suggested places based on his origin, current location, and next appointment
Emily is a freelance photographer who often shoot photos of events for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Because of the nature of her work, her daily schedule is often a mix of scheduled events and spur of the moment unscheduled events.
One day last week, Emily was scheduled to photograph three events in a small town 20 miles north of Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, when Emily arrived at her first appointment, her boss called to say that it had been moved to another location. Already late, Emily had to change her plans and drive to the new location.
Because she had not planned to be at this new location, Emily was unaware of what coffee shops and restaurants were in the area and had trouble finding a place to answer emails and send photos to her editor. Using Travelogue, Emily could have amended her schedule on the fly and found local shops in between her destinations.
There are a wide array of mobile applications that are designed to help users plan their day and find local services (wireless internet, transportation) and places (coffee shops, book stores). Conducting a competitive analysis allowed us to explore key features of existing applications and to identify the ways in which currently available mobile apps are not meeting the needs of mobile workers. Below is a summary of the related apps that are available in the iPhone App Store.
Wireframes and Designs
After developing a full set of wireframes, we conducted three evaluations and collected feedback from participants about the design, organization, and features of the application.