Mobile with mobiles (travel apps)

Thursday, 27 August 2015

by: Qurius

Applications (apps) are adopted when they offer effectiveness (the product is useful, the user gains something), ease (the app is easy to use, the use is self-explanatory), and engagement (a nice design, opportunities for fun and games, etc.). These three EEE factors are not equally important however, as a certain hierarchy exists.

The gain or usefulness is paramount; this is a basic need. If an application does not provide reliable travel information, a person will not be eager to reuse it. The ‘ease’ dimension is sometimes characterised as a dissatisfier: if an application does not provide ease of use, the user feels less satisfied. The ‘enjoyment’ dimension is in this context a satisfier: users are pleasantly surprised when applications have enjoyable aspects, but they are not necessarily dissatisfied with the app if such aspects are missing. Whether an app is actually used (as opposed to simply downloaded) depends on the abovementioned factors. In addition, the characteristics of the users themselves are also relevant, as is the situation or context in which the app is used.

The dimensions and aspects that determine if a person uses or does not use an app are compiled in a structured framework, which can be used to estimate the apps ex-ante in terms of their potential contributions to the mobility objectives of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (IenM).

Travel information, apps and mobility policy

Travellers need travel information to greater or lesser degrees, depending on their particular situations. This information can be provided in various ways, such as for example via websites, in-car systems, radio, and Dynamic Route Information Panels (DRIP’s). In recent years a variety of apps have been developed that can be used on smartphones. Such apps are interesting for travellers, as they offer the possibility of arriving at one’s destination faster, easier, more affordably and more comfortably.

Structured framework

Based on a literature study and interviews with experts, the KiM Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis has devised in this study a structured framework that can clearly determine the requirements that apps must meet in order to be adopted by users. If people alter their mobility behaviour because of their use of an app, this is interesting for policy.

Although the framework offers guidance, one user differs from the next. The ways in which a person assesses ‘gain’, ‘ease’ and ‘enjoyment’ is dependent on that person’s personal characteristics, such as sense of direction and the extent to which he or she is open to new experiences. Whether the route is known or unknown, the motive for undertaking a trip, and the situation en route (for example, bad weather conditions) also influence the need for information. When using this framework, it is important to recognise these subtle distinctions.

From the KiM Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis 'Mobiel met mobieltjes' report (in Dutch).