Centered Ep 3 | Design at Ola, India’s Largest Ride-sharing Company

Bengaluru, India

Every second, 3 more Indians come online for the first time. That’s over 10,000 people every hour. Smartphone ownership and usage outpace desktop devices, making India a mobile-first nation. I met with Ola, India’s largest ride-sharing company, at their headquarters in Bengaluru to learn how product creators are designing for these next billion users.

The Challenge: Mobile-first nation

The influx of users coming online in India opens the door to a lot of potential for product creators, but there are still significant barriers to overcome. 33% of smartphone users in India run out of storage every day, and the first thing they do when they need to clear up space is to delete installed apps.

“These are people who typically have low-end smartphones, they’re characterized by having low memory” 1:29

In many countries, it’s common to submit an email address when creating a new account in an app or online service. Desktop users are likely to have an email account that they check daily. But this isn’t the case for mobile-first nations like India. Email isn’t the norm. Instead, those who come online for the first time using a mobile device often prefer to use their phone number as a sign-in credential.

The Takeaway: Progressive Web App

By creating a web experience that is reliable, fast, and engaging, Ola was able to remove a lot of those barriers. By removing CAPTCHA and the requirement of an email, Ola moved to a mobile-first approach and increased their conversion rate by 30%. Thoughtful considerations like these help us design for mobile-first nations and create products for the next billion users.

“A Progressive web app is a bridge between the best of what the web has to offer and a native app experience. A PWA offers me the SEO benefits that I need for some of my transportation rides, but also gives me a smooth native app-like experience.“
Dipika Kapadia, Senior Director of Product Management, Ola 2:37

Tools and Techniques: Making your app feel fast

“Making your app feel fast is essential to creating a great Progressive Web App experience. Using placeholder UI elements with subtle animation creates a higher perceived response time.” 02:55

Watch the full episode

Thank you to Ola for sharing how they’re mobilizing this mobile-first nation.

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