The problem is, it's genuinely hard to figure out how much your summer roadtrip might cost. You can easily figure out accomodation costs, and you can budget for food costs, but unless you know your car really well it's hard to budget for gas prices – which, as it turns out can be fairly expensive!
Roadtrip is an app that shows you the fuel price of your journey, based on your specific car model. All it needs is an origin, destination and your car's licence plate and it'll calculate how much the trip might cost based on the trip distance, current fuel price and the specs of your car. The app is currently available for testing on Apple TestFlight.
Originally Roadtrip required users to enter their car’s fuel efficiency in KM/L. However, I soon realised something while user testing: Nobody in their right mind knows their cars fuel efficiency. Literally no one I talked to. So it was back to the drawing board, I had to come up with something that was easy for people to enter, but accurate enough that it wouldn’t show misinformation.
I considered having an option between 3 different car types, but after some research discovered that car’s since 1995 have become 25-30% more fuel efficient, so using an average could end up being very inaccurate.
The app needs something that everyone knows about their car, that makes it unique. I considered using a database that had a variety of different car manufacturers, models, and years – but this result made the user experience a lot slower than I'd like from a simple calculator, and it meant it always had to be updated with new cars.
Then I had a bit of a lightbulb moment: I wonder if it's possible to find out a car’s fuel efficiency, based on it’s licence plate? Lucky, it was. The team were able to create an API using an existing New Zealand licence plate fuel efficiency database, which meant we could call our own API and get the car's fuel efficiency. Magic.
This new system worked way better in user testing, people were much more likely to know their car's licence plate than it's fuel efficiency. However, the UI wasn't very clear. It worked for a prototype but could be a lot more simple and streamlined – especially the output screen.
So I went back to the drawing board again and figured out that the API could show if the car was petrol or diesel, so I could remove that input, and rather than show every single piece of data from the calculation, now it just show's whats important to the user. Refactoring UI was a great resource for helping streamline the UI and focusing on what matters.
I used Augmented Reality to prototype form quicker than building real life models, for instance times that I couldn't be in the workshop. I used Fusion 360 to model my designs, and Substance Painter to texture them. Finally, I exported them as a .USDZ file and can share to people to be visualised in their own spaces, in life size. AR mode only works on iPhones and iPad.