Streamlining Ski Carpool Matching

Product Design, UX Design, UI Design, iOS

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Making ski carpool matching experience streamlined and trustworthy.


3 weeks

2 UX+UI Designers,
1 Research Coordinator,
1 Illustrator

UX+UI Designer

Sketch, InVision



The Challenge

Design a carpool solution that helps skiers get or give rides to and from favorite ski mountains.

The Outcome Overview

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The Problem

During winter, one of the most popular outdoor activities is skiing. Many people think about going to ski, but few end up going. Why?

The burden of figuring out the transportation and finding companions to go along seems to stop many people from going. While carpool is often a way out, a suitable ski carpool could be hard to find, and it works differently from a normal carpool. The frustration motivated us to design a better solution.

The initial question to drive our design is

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Define the problem scope

For the 1st version of the design, we focus on skiers going from San Francisco Bay to Lake Tahoe, the nearby popular ski resort destination.

It’s ~200 miles apart for a 4-hour drive.




Target User Profile / Contextual Inquiry (n=8)

We defined the ideal user profile and sourced appropriate participants. There’re 8 Bay Area residents interviewed about their experience and the problems encountered. 

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Affinity Diagramming

We then created an affinity diagram to sort out their responses. It allowed us to naturally group related ideas and uncover insights.

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Context Characteristics

From the user interviews, we figured out the major difference between ski carpools and normal carpools. Ski-carpool is different as it:


Current User Journey & Frustrations

We also learned about how do skiers usually arrange/find carpools. The journey starts from sourcing opportunities by reading textual posts on online groups/forums.


Synthesis Findings: Major Problems

Distilling the research insights, we synthesized 3 major problems of ski carpool matching.





Design Mission

HMW Statement & 3 Goals

After distilling the research insights, we redefined the How Might We statement and came up with 3 major goals.

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User Flow + Wireframe

Design Decisions

  1. Driver initiates the carpool, decides the carpool details, and set-up requirements/preferences for the passenger.

  2. Passenger searches and applies for the carpool.

  3. Driver has the rights to approve / decline passenger application.

Research Insights

  1. There’re much fewer driver than passenger in ski-carpool market.

  2. Driver has the say in the details of the trip.

  3. Driver has the rights to choose the passenger he/she prefers.

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Research Insights

  1. Some skiers turn to post ski-carpool initiatives in company employee groups instead of regional skier groups. They believe in people similar to them more than strangers without connections.

Design Decisions

  1. To address Goal 3 (Build Trust & Reliability): Users sign in with their social accounts to see the real identity & mutual connection of fellow carpoolers.


Research Insights

  1. Lots of skiers who look for a ride actually drive. Some of them would become a driver offering rides when they can’t find suitable ones.

Design Decisions

  1. To increase driver supply / carpool supply:

    Have a floating button on the main screen for creating a carpool. Motivate skiers looking for a ride to become a driver. Make it easy to switch between roles.

  2. To address Goal 2 (Efficient Communication):

    Crucial details are required when setting up a carpool. Reduce back-and-forth inquiries and prevent miscommunication.

  3. To address Goal 1 (Effective Searching):

    Carpool info is formatted in columns. No more unformatted textual post.


Design Decisions

  1. To address Goal 1 (Effective Searching):

    Formatted carpool info enabled the search system, filtering feature, and carpool categorization.

  2. To address Goal 2 (Efficient Communication):

    (1) Formatted carpool info covering crucial details. Reduce back-and-forth inquiries and prevent miscommunication.

    (2) Formatted application process make it easier for both driver & passenger to manage.

  3. To address Goal 3 (Build Trust & Reliability):

    (1) Passengers applying for a carpool have to agree with the trip logistics and rider responsibilities first. Reduce potential drop out due to miscommunication.

    (2) Passengers can see the previous review of the driver & the social connection with him/her.


Design Decisions

  1. To address Goal 2 (Efficient Communication):

    (1) Formatted application process make it easier for both driver & passenger to manage.

  2. To address Goal 3 (Build Trust & Reliability):

    Driver can see the previous review of the passenger & the social connection with him/her before approving the application.


Clickable Prototyping


Visual Guideline




Concept/Interface Evaluation

We used the InVision prototype to conduct user testing sessions on the app’s primary user flows with the skiers we previously interviewed. Participants were evaluated based on the completion of 3 user tasks. Our goals were to learn more about the app’s ease of use, and whether our solution does address the main pain points for the users. The insights from which contributed to our future iterations.

Positive Feedback

  1. “Screening carpools is much easier.” by a passenger ✅

  2. “Well-informed about carpool details. Less burden on additional inquiry.” by a passenger ✅

  3. “Being able to see the mutual friends makes the drivers look more authentic to me. Also, I’m sure we can build better conversations during the trip then.” by a passenger ✅

  4. “The streamlined application process helps me differentiate who’s serious about going and who’s just asking around.” by a driver ✅

  5. “I like that I can see the reviews from people who carpooled with a potential passenger of mine. Helps me evaluate whether I’d like to have him/her in my car.” by a driver ✅

Insights for Refinement/Iterations

  1. Reducing cognitive load when completing driver profile & filling in carpool details.

  2. Prioritize nearby drivers according to user location.

  3. Being able to learn more about fellow carpoolers. Space for personalized intro.

  4. Being able to favorite or block fellow carpoolers.


Reflection & Next Step

What was helpful

User interview & concept evaluation has been the most helpful in figuring out the underlying pain points and unique characteristics about the context.

What has the most potential

(1) The display, search, and categorization of carpools. (2) The information display of each carpool opportunity. There’s much potential in testing out the most efficient and most intriguing way.

Given more time… / Next Iteration