Ground Transportation



Traditionally Cartrawler is known as a car rental aggregator platform. Making 4,000,000 plus car rental bookings annually through their B2B partner sites such as: Ryanair, AerLingus, Emirates and through their B2C branded sites, Holiday Autos and Arguscarhire.

They have been very successful in the area of car rental so why move into ground transportation? They realised that this market was changing in a number of ways:


  • Societal factors – Many countries prohibit non-nationals to drive. Where they can drive, the local infrastructure can be intimidating which creates anxiety about driving in foreign countries.
  • Technology – Technology has changed how we move ourselves about, Uber and Hailo are just two disruptive examples.
  • Strategic – Cartrawler were looking to enhance their product offering to their clients. In 2015 they acquired Cabforce, a Finnish ground transportation company as an entry into the ground transportation (GT) market.

The Challenge


Cartrawler’s competitors are also aware of the importance of GT and the growing market. This opportunity generated a great deal of determination and pressure to deliver a superior GT product.

What we had to deliver

  • Deliver for mobile, desktop and tablet
  • Transport options to be designed for private transfer, bus,train and shared shuttle
  • One way, return and multi trip options
  • Integrate into the existing systems for operations and customer care
  • The end-to-end build had to be completed with in 6 weeks
  • A GT UX experience that was better than anything our direct competitors have
  • An intuitive UI

The Approach


Using agile development methodologies we could rapidly work towards the goal of delivering a minimum usable product (MUP). With the MUP we would then to be able test and refine the product as we progressed. The approach we took was as follows

  1. Research
  2. Story mapping
  3. Ideation
  4. Wire-frames
  5. Mock-ups
  6. Testing
  7. How the team worked
  8. Conclusion

1. Research

Fortunately the acquisition of Cabforce gave us valuable access to a considerable amount of data. From the data we could get: journey trips, frequency, location and the leisure or business split. This would give us a clear indication to our main target. Other competitors were analysed to assess core functionality, best practice and discover gaps in their implementation.

An example of one of the personas


Business travel


Destination Europe


Price sensitive

Top Locations

76% Europe
10% Russia
4% China
4% Africa
2% USA
2% Middle East
2% Non Europe

Vehicle type usage

59% Best value

25% Executive
16% Mini van

2. Story mapping


Story mapping was a very useful way to find out more about the user. Taking the personas we built up viable use case and likely features for the MUP. The original workshop took several hours and was a very good basis to use as a priority list, this was adapted during the development.

One of the advantages of user story mapping it helps in formulating  information architecture of what you are planning to build. It helps give you and other members of the team a sense of scale and a very good overview.

story mapping

3. Ideation

After the story mapping workshop was completed the data had to be processed and analysed. Gaps and other shortcomings were uncovered and discussed. The story mapping should to be seen as a living document, one that was always going to evolve as information was uncovered.

Workshops were undertaken to assess the information architecture. What were the steps required to book and what were the best way to layout ths steps.

The ideation sessions were undertaken with the whole team when possible (several of the developers were in Finland) as well as with other UX designers from CarTrawler.

Despite several alternative ideas being suggested and sketched out, the approach taken for the MUP was to try and keep as close to the existing style that was already established in CarTrawler. This had several benefits.

  • The pattern library had data behind it to indicate what was working. This could be used and tested against the new GT service.
  • There would be less development overhead, helping speed up the development time.

The other ideas were to be considered for tests and when more data was available. As this was an MUP the focus was on releasing a service within six weeks, so speed was the key.

4. Wireframing

Before the Cabforce data was available we began to wire frame mobile versions. The assumption being if we had to change the MUP we would at least have had the benefit of thinking through the whole customer journey.

Some difficult decisions had to be made but at least the work did not go to waste. As the project progressed more data became available and the desktop version was prioritised as it accounted ~40% of sales on Cartrawler partner sites.

5. High Fidelity mockups

Once all stakeholders had been consulted and I received sign off for all features that were included in the MUP I began designing high fidelity mock-ups. Sketch and PhotoShop were used as was Invision to keep team members and stakeholder up to date on the design developments.

As anyone involved in UI design will know there were many many iterations of the mock-ups, here are some examples.

6. Testing

If you want a great site, you’ve got to test. After you’ve worked on a site for even a few weeks, you can’t see it freshly anymore. You know too much. The only way to find out if it really works is to test it

Steve Krug

Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Having a good indication as to what you think you should build and what the customer actually wants can be very different. Two sessions of moderated user-testing was conducted for the MUP.


Pre-release testing

The pre-release testing encompassed click through invision prototypes. This was conducted in-house with volunteers from Cartrawler. The volunteers were picked on the criteria that they had never seen any of the mock-ups of the product before. The participants were given a task-sheet and asked to make a booking unaided by the moderator. There were several scenarios that participants were asked to perform. They varied from booking a one way, return or multi trip.

Outcomes were logged giving valuable list of fixes required before release.

Example script from pre-release testing



Shortly after the release more user testing was organised. This was conducted in a lab environment. Segmented markets were identified and members of the public that fell within the criteria were invited to attend.

An external agency was contracted to source the participants and the interviews were conducted in their labs. 10 participants were engaged and the insights from those tests were analysed and prioritised.

The insights from the testing were used to implement improvements.

Example script from the post release testing

7. How we worked

Plans are nothing; planning is everything

Dwight D. Eisenhower

34th President of the United States

One of the biggest advantages of working in an agile development is you get to work much closer with the team members. Giving everyone on the team new and varying perspectives resulting in insights into your own work, which feeds back into the process, resulting in a better product. This process fosters a greater ownership of the product.

The development life cycle

  • Morning stand up
  • Discuss tickets on the Kanban board
  • Jira project management tool to keep track of everyting
  • Sort out blockers & issues
  • Work on priorities

The core GT team

  • One UX/UI designer (me)
  • Three developers
  • One Project manager
  • Other team members: UX designer and researcher

8. Conclusion

The new Ground Transportaion product has been well received, initial user testing and partner feedback feedback were positive. With more partners using the service this will enable the team to find out more about the product. Which in turn will help with setting up tests and improving the product features.

The knowledge gained from the testing, a clear roadmap and a sound delivery methodology should put the Cartrawler GT product in good shape. The MVP delivered is a valuable asset to the Cartrawler product suite and will continue to be in the future. It is still early days for GT but it is looking positive.