Joydrive was started by a veteran on the banking and automotive industries. He saw an opening in the market for an online car sales platform for trusted and elite dealerships.

Similar models exist where all of the vehicles are owned by the operating company, but this turns it on its head by building out an online marketplace where the vehicles are owned by individual dealers. The whole the transaction is facilitated online through one common, unified experience.

The car industry was new to our team, and there was a ton of industry jargon getting thrown around. So, like most projects at thoughtbot, we started with a product design sprint which I facilitated.

Day one, Understand, was spent learning the domain. This covered a wealth of existing research, learning about pricing models, interviewing experts, and walking through the normal customer journey.

Photo of various whiteboarding sessions

(Swanky glass whiteboards don't make for very clear photos.)

Day two, Divergent Thinking, was spent running through some creative exercises for solution generation. Things like crazy eights and storyboarding got us some fresh perspectives on the problem, and more importantly, got everyone participating in the design process.

Photo of storyboard sketches

We spent day three, Converge, reviewing all of our design artifacts, Risks and Assumptions, How Might We's, and dug deeper into the problem and domain. We settled on a testing plan to help validate some of our asssumptions.

The prototype was a straightforward, one day attempt at capturing the bulk of the "happy-path" customer journey. It was mostly helpful in providing a framework to talk to customers in testing the following day. It also made everything a little more concrete, which makes discsussion with the team, and especially non-technical stakeholders easier. This particular prototype was a handful of quick Sketch mockups, wired together in Invision.

The first prototype

We carved out an MVP with a light dealer back-end to let our test dealership pilot an online version of their store. We slowly built outwards based on their needs, and eventually added more stores.

Screenshot of vehicle index

A year later, the site's pretty different than the original sprint imagined. (There have been three other sprints since, for specific problems like dealer management and increasing deposits.) One of our quickest realizations was the importance of trade-ins, something we initially planned on punting on. Customer interviews and feedback told us that many people wouldn't even consider buying a car unless they knew what they'd get back on their trade-in first, so that was heavily prioritized.

Screenshot of customer's vehicle show page

Another pretty radical change was removing the need for a $500 deposit before you could talk to a dealer. We were imagining that we could offload a lot of that communication into the app, but for many customers, being able to ask someone questions about the history of a vehicle goes a long way in their purchasing decision.

Screenshot of new contact info page

The word "disrupt" gets a lot of flak, but it has been fun working on a project that has the potention to disrupt its industry. It's a new model and new experience, and I'm excited to see where it goes.

Screenshot of the customer's deal page

Though I was the primary designer for most of this project, several other thoughbot designers have had a large contribution, most recently Stephen Lindberg and Brenda Storer.