Get around your city with “Citymapper”
At first, getting around a city can be very difficult. When I moved to NYC, 6 years ago, I was lost. everything looked the same to me, and couldn’t even figure out the Subway. Google maps was there but it was mainly meant for drivers (I didn't have a car, and relied on public transportation, and walking). When my friend recommended Citymapper, I couldn't believe I was moving around New York City, by myself, like I grew up there. This app came to solve a problem Google maps, and even worse, the failed Apple maps couldn't solve. Which is basically how to get from point A to B without a car. Let’s see why:
Usability: This app is very simple, clear and straight to the point. It has an expandable map that shows your location most of the times (except when you are typing), and it is very easy to undo and go back, and type a new location, or even ask it how to get somewhere, from a place you are not located at the moment (In case you re planning to do so at a later time). To make my point in how this app is better to similar ones, I just opened my Google maps and tried to find a way to change my current location and get somewhere from there, but it took me more than 15 seconds to find a way so I gave it up and closed it.
Functionality: After you type your desired destination, it will show the user in a concise, easy to read manner, all of your possible options to get there. Metro lanes, bus lanes (that includes expected wait times, which to my experience, have been always accurate), bikes (for services like Citibike), cabs (for services like Uber, which includes approximate wait times and fares, and the option to book it in the app), and what route is faster to walk (provides walking approximate time as well). As the end-user, I use the app exactly for its desired designed purpose. This is also a wide variety of services grouped together in one single app, to solve one problem. This also, makes it stand out from competitors.
Release quality sets expectations: I have been using this app for 6 years already. It has made a lot of small changes with time, probably based on feedback. It has added a ton of new cities since then, as they originally started in London and then NYC (They even ask you what city they should include next), and added as I described previously, new services that have become popular after this app has been around, like e-Scooters and Lyft. As of Wikipedia: ” In December 2019 the app added a feature which allows users to choose between a “fast” route or “main roads” which avoid dimly-lit areas”. Worth mentioning that it will not show you an option if it is not available in a city, reducing friction for the user, that will know accurately what they can or cannot use.
I have used it when I've visited other cities (it works in most major cities around the world) I used again when I moved to Los Angeles, and it became such an important app on my phone without me realizing it. At the same time, I kind of lose it when I see people trying to get around on Google maps and I ask them why they're not using Citymapper. This is a clear case of market fit, I will go out of my way to “sell” this app to others.
In the competitive tech world, it must be difficult to compete against giants with more budget for marketing and position yourself against them; even if such competitors offer products that are not as efficient or good; but as Citymapper has iterated through the years, and built a bigger reach by adding more cities to its list, this app is showing growth and investment in an area that its competitors usually overlook (pedestrian commuting, versus drivers).
Design-wise, its visual hierarchy is on point (the user is guided visually from top to bottom) to location, then best options of transportation then suggested or alternative commutes. It groups the elements accordingly, so there is no need to navigate much around the app unless I need something specific, such as the settings; which the user won't need on a daily basis.
Color and fonts are accessible, offer contrast, can be read without effort and on the go, and although the design has not changed much in the last 6 years, it has always been effective and never a distraction for when I 've used it, especially in a fast-paced environment where you need to know where you are going quick.