E-bike app to maximize user experience
5 stars Playstore rating - Bernd, 20.06.2021
It's finally here, the new Fazua app. The settings can now be made from a smartphone, which is very practical when you're on the move. Previously, this had to be done via a connected notebook.
In 2015, the brand-new FAZUA concept revolutionized the bicycle industry and paved the way for lightweight e-bikes. They have been part of Porsche eBike Performance GmbH since July 2022. The compact FAZUA Drive System combines motor and battery, is super-light, slim and quiet, can be elegantly integrated into the frame and ensures an exceptionally smooth ride. What FAZUA was missing from their outstanding product was a more convenient way for users to interact with the bike.
A new App
Previous mobile app iterations proved to be rather unsuccessful. Outdated UI concepts, BLE connectivity issues and an overall unsatisfactory user experience were some of the problems associated with the old app, and at the time, the only option for customers to fine-tune their e-bike settings was a desktop application. However, this first had to be connected to the bike via USB and was complex to operate. A better, portable alternative in the form of a mobile app to improve the user experience was urgently needed.
To give some context on what features were planned for the new app at the beginning:
- Calculating the optimal bike settings based on the user's gender, weight, age, height, riding style and other characteristics
- Users should be able to create their own individual bike profiles
- A diagnostic function to read out error messages from the bike and provide customers with appropriate assistance
- Wireless updates of the bike firmware
"By developing the Fazua app, CodingPassion is making a fundamental contribution to realizing a great product for our customers. The app will digitally complete the Fazua product portfolio with innovative, useful and beneficial features and thus further develop our business model. It is an important part of our growth strategy. In particular, we expect a significant increase in customer engagement. CodingPassion is a strong, flexible and, above all, reliable partner for us.
CodingPassion is particularly characterized by the fact that they actually live their defined values of agile software development in practice. They see themselves as part of our team and support us at all levels to realize the project. They not only have excellent development and design skills, but also contribute strategically. We can highly recommend working with CodingPassion!"
How it all began and why Fazua decided to collaborate with us.
When looking for a suitable app development agency, the Fazua team was faced with many unanswered questions. "There are so many agencies on the market, but how can you tell which one is the best fit for us?" Oliver Heisig, Product Owner of the app, shared with us in an interview.
However, one criterion was important to them right from the start. As FAZUA is a startup itself, they didn't want to be bound by slow processes and hierarchies that other agencies might impose on them. They also wanted a partner company that they could identify with and vice versa - mutual understanding was important.
Although we were still a brand new company at the time, we already had an advantage over our competitors. FAZUA saw that we were highly motivated people who showed genuine interest in their product and asked the right questions from day one. To their amazement, we had already created a fully designed prototype app for free before a contract existed or negotiations were finalized.
It was clear to them from the outset that we understood exactly how start-ups work, which was exactly what they were looking for. Uncomplicated, straightforward, efficient, determined, empathetic.
Now, of course, there were other aspects to choosing the right partner. To minimize costs and development time, FAZUA wanted to use a cross-platform technology. After doing some research themselves, they came to the same conclusion as we did, that Flutter was the best choice for this project.
Our "Time & Material (Pay as you go)" pricing model is also very simple and straightforward, which was a good fit in this case.
With all these criteria, Fazua was convinced that we were the right companions to work with on their ambitious project.
From the idea to the app
Before we started any form of work (design, development, etc.), it was our top priority to develop a really deep understanding of the product.Although a list of requirements already existed in the form of short user stories, this understanding is fundamental in order to focus on the right features during app development. It was important to us not to simply implement all requirements without thinking about them, as is the case with many other agencies, but to question everything and help Fazua develop the best possible product, which is why we held an on-site workshop lasting several days with all project participants at the beginning. This kick-off workshop achieved three important things:Firstly, we gained better insights into the product, the thought processes behind the desired features and a general understanding of what the app could look like in the future.
Equally important was asking the right questions of the Fazua team. As a result, they began to re-evaluate which features were most important (MVP), which would not work as intended and might need to be adapted, and which would not add much value for users. A simple exchange with someone who has not been involved in the project from the beginning and is therefore unbiased can already provide many new insights and let them see the product from a different perspective.last but not least, we also got to know each other better personally. We live in a world where remote working is increasingly becoming the de facto standard. Spending a few days together in the real world, having lunch together, laughing and having good conversations seemed like a good opportunity to get to know each other better. After all, work should be fun, fulfilling and it goes without saying that a great product can only be built by a great team with great collaboration.
We then opted for an agile (iterative) way of working with 2-week scrum sprints. The focus of the first 2 sprints was mainly on the core UI/UX design of the app. We worked closely with the Fazua team to gather as much input and feedback as possible and to understand which design best suits the brand. The sprint reviews, where we collected feedback from stakeholders, also always proved to be very helpful.
The focus of the subsequent sprints was on implementing the app and adding new features. In order to reduce costs and create an MVP version as quickly as possible, we concentrated on the functions that would bring the greatest benefit to customers. Often we have also decided not to build generic features at all, but to simply "buy" them because they have already been developed many times, such as our decision not to develop our own backend, but to rely on something more lightweight like Firebase. The development of an extensive backend would have been much more costly than beneficial for us at that time. This simple decision saved us an enormous amount of development time, thus reducing costs and shortening the time-to-market for Fazua. The virtually non-existent maintenance effort of BAAS (Backend-as-a-Service) was a further advantage. One difficulty we faced, however, was that we couldn't launch the app as early as we wanted because the required e-bike firmware was still under development. To solve this problem and get customer feedback as quickly as possible, it worked in our favor that we at least had the opportunity to run a closed beta phase where Fazua employees and family and friends who had a Fazua bike could use the app. This allowed us to continuously improve the product and identify bugs early on.
Over 60 sprints later, we and especially the customers are very happy with the results.
One of the most extensive parts of the application currently is the ingenious way for users to customize their bike profile to their exact needs - the so-called "Customizer", which is also the heart of the app. Since not every user is technically savvy or familiar with the bike, it was difficult to create a perfect user experience where experts have all the degrees of freedom they need to customize the bike to their needs, but also provide a simple interface for beginners.
In order to satisfy all target groups, Fazua pursued a dual approach:
- Beginners can simply answer a questionnaire with questions about gender, age, weight, height, fitness level, etc.. The app then calculates the most suitable riding profile (fig. right)
- For experts, we have created a detailed settings screen on which everything can be adjusted intuitively using 2D diagrams (Fig. right)
In this way, we have ensured that all customers are happy.
Another great way for users to try out different profiles and discover different riding styles is to use the Profile Store. In the Profile Store, Fazua and other manufacturers can upload pre-configured profiles for different riding style modes such as Gravel, Mountain Tech & Trail or Urban. Originally planned, but postponed due to other priorities, was also the upload and sharing of community profiles - i.e. profiles created by users themselves.
Support for different e-bike firmwares
One of the biggest challenges in the development of the app was the integration of different ebike systems. The app currently supports the so-called Ride50 and Ride60 systems developed by Fazua (and further firmwares will follow in the future). Both differ in functionality and have different interfaces, which makes software development much more difficult. When creating new bike profiles in the Customizer, it is therefore also necessary to distinguish whether the profile is for a Ride50 or Ride60 system.
The internationalization of the app also played a major role, as Fazua engines are in demand throughout Europe. Five languages are currently supported, including German, English, French, Spanish and Italian. The internationalization of the app also played a major role, as Fazua engines are in demand throughout Europe. Five languages are currently supported, including German, English, French, Spanish and Italian.
In the future, the app can expect many more exciting enhancements, with the most anticipated feature currently being the new radiator button and the associated dashboard screen. This is a redesign of the functionality from the previous "Fazua Rider" app, allowing users to view interesting metrics such as speed, the power provided by the motor, their own exerted power, the ratio between these two and much more in real time during a bike ride. At the end of the ride, a summary of all recorded data is displayed on another beautiful dashboard, such as the distance traveled, average speed, calories burned, etc.
"Before CodingPassion built our new eBike app, we only had a desktop application through which users could adjust their eBike settings. Acceleration, Support Relation, and Max Power are just a few examples of settings that can be made on the bike.
However, the major disadvantage of the desktop application was that users had to connect the bike to the PC via USB, which created high complexity. Also, users could not adjust any pre-set settings while riding. The necessity to build a mobile application that allows uncomplicated connection to the bike via Bluetooth increased. To solve this problem, we were looking for a software agency that not only had the know-how in app development and Bluetooth but also one with which we could identify on a human level. CP, which was still a young company at that time, was a perfect fit for us, and they showed personal commitment and high motivation to advance the product right from the start. For example, they developed a fully implemented prototype app for free, even before any contract was formally concluded. This already demonstrated their skills and willingness in advance and set them apart from the competition.
The agile working method lived by the CP team matched very well with our own as a startup. Uncomplicated and fast processes make collaboration with CP very pleasant."
"CodingPassion plays a fundamental role in developing the Fazua app, helping us realize a great product for our customers. The app will complete the Fazua product portfolio digitally with innovative, meaningful, and beneficial features and thus further develop our business model. It is an important component of our growth strategy. In particular, we expect a significant increase in customer engagement. CodingPassion is a strong, flexible, and above all, reliable partner for us.
What particularly distinguishes CodingPassion is that they actually live their defined values of agile software development in practice. They see themselves as part of our team and support us on all levels to realize the project. They possess not only excellent development and design skills but also contribute strategically. We can highly recommend a collaboration with CodingPassion!"
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