How are e-bikes faring so far?
The world loves them
- There are over 200 million electric-powered bicycles in China
- In 2012, 120 thousand electric cars sold world-wide.
- In 2012, 29.3 million e-bikes sold world-wide.
Americans are...coming around
How do we cross the big scary chasm of early adoption?
Optional (but important) reading:
"The Tesla Strategy"
Electric bikes, as they’re seen in America now, are a luxury good. They’re a flashier, newer, more expensive remix of a classic technology that already works fine. So why fix what isn’t broken?
This sounds like the same dilemma facing another remixed transportation machine: the electric car. But while part of the “Prius mentality” can be sold on noble planet-saving and economical gas-saving, electric bikes enjoy no such rhetoric (nor the tax breaks). So how do we shed the “lazy,” “pointless,” “luxury” labels that Americans put on e-bikes? How do we get them to cross the early adoption chasm?
Look at Tesla. They are soaring across this chasm, not by preaching practicality, but by embracing their luxury roots and building the coolest, sexiest, highest-quality electric supercar on the planet. And yes they look cool, but Tesla’s quality really shines when you sit in the plush leather seat, marvel at the HD touchscreen dashboard, hit the accelerator, and get shot forward with the sort of quickness that causes involuntary sounds to exit your mouth. And since the car is engineless—almost alien in its silence—everyone in the car can hear you whisper “woah.” (If you think that last bit was over-the-top, just watch this video of Tesla passengers' reactions)
Tesla’s entire sales department has one goal: get people to demo this car.
Electric bikes are similar. Their value becomes clear when you ride them. When the power of your every pedal stroke gets multiplied by 300%. When you fly by everyone on your morning commute. When you climb a steep hill while nonchalantly reading a text message. When you arrive at work with all of the exhilaration but none of the sweat.
We need to borrow a page from Tesla’s playbook and get people on these e-bikes.
FACT: There is a large segment of the population that refuses to give e-bikes a chance right now. That's ok.
We don't worry about mainstream appeal.
We worry about turning early adopters into proselytizers.
What does the website look like to an early adopter?
The site works fine as an e-commerce site for traditional bikes and bike accessories.
It does not, however, cater to the needs of our target user who is looking to learn and explore a new type of transportation.
Personas: Two types of early adopter
Early adopters do not want to be “sold.” By their nature, these users are explorers, risk-takers, and—when they discover something cool—enthusiastic sharers.
We want to make them ambassadors for our undiscovered brand. This means a more intimate experience of discovery and education.
An ambitious but promising strategy that would put Public’s e-bikes in the lobbies of mid-to-high end hotels. Public would gain access to adventurous older users with disposable income and a desire to explore a new city. Hotels would gain a unique tourist attraction. And the electric bike would gain natural buzz from trend-setting travelers who want to tell their friends about the time they zipped around the hills of San Francisco on a cutting-edge bike.
The demo sign-up is key. We need to get people in the store and on a bike as soon as possible. Public’s brick and mortar charm is their strength. Likewise, the experience of riding an e-bike is something that needs to be felt in person to truly appreciate.
SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION
EDUCATIONAL PROMO VIDEO
The biggest hurdle facing e-bike early-adoption is the average user's misunderstanding of e-bikes. If they don't understand how the thing works, they won't be able to grasp its benefits. A well-produced video would weave together entertainment, promotion, and education. I'm picturing a pretty girl in a sundress, flowers in her hair, moseying her way up Lombard Street past a crew of huffing and puffing Tour de France guys.
Public has a solid social media foundation with an active Instagram following of over 10k, a Facebook page of 44k, and a Pinterest page with actively curated sections. These bits of personality should be emphasized on the website in order to lure in the trend-setters.
A simple widget to calculate the long-term savings of an e-bike compared to other modes of transportation. This entices the practical side of the technology.
Ideation and testing
Things got messy. We sketched, doodled, and brainstormed different approaches to the site's content strategy and information architecture.
Wireframes were sketched, tested, and re-sketched. Much coffee was consumed.
Usability testing occurred within Invision amongst our friends and fellow students.
- The core of the site's content strategy relies on Discovery and Education, since they pose the biggest obstacles in our early adopter's journey.
- With this in mind, we start off with broad, beautiful explanatory content (Hero shot, tagline, educational promo video) to draw the user in, and then we move down the page into narrower details (Price and specs comparisons) for further information on this highly-technical product.
- Another thing we emphasized is how easy it is for the user to demo an e-bike. Since Public's strength is in it's brick-and-mortar charm, and an e-bike's value isn't apparent until you try it out; we want to get customers in on the bikes as soon as possible.