Create a consumer-based mobile app that simplifies the maintenance & ownership experience of the outboard. Co-create a new experience with Yamaha’s senior leadership, conduct user research from multiple stakeholders and identify key features for product rollout.
Reimagining the Future Of Smart Outboard Engines With Yamaha.
A mobile app that helps boat owners service the engine through the use of in-app notifications and guides. Ease the ownership experience by providing real-time engine data and health status of the engine.
With 10K+ active downloads, increase customer satisfaction across Yamaha’s customer base by providing vital engine data needed for boat owners to plan and prepare for boat trips and overall safety.
What is Yamaha & What Do They Do?
In May 2018, Yamaha Outboard Motors unveiled their new high-performance XTO Offshore engine rated at 425 HP 5.6-liter V8 powerhead with direct fuel injection. The XTO sets a new benchmark for displacement and power from Yamaha. The XTO Offshore is designed for the growing demand for big power for the heaviest offshore fishing boats, dayboats, and pontoon boats. The XTO outboard is also a smart engine allowing its owners to monitor engine status, suggest best settings for better performance and provide valuable data like engine speed, RPM and boat location.
Over 87 million U.S. adults participate in recreational boating, using a boat for activities such as fishing and water skiing and/or to travel. The total value of recreational boats sold reached over 3.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2016. In total, 11.87 million recreational boating vessels were registered in the U.S. in 2015. Yamaha is the world leader in water vehicle sales.
Understanding The Problem Space
Maintaining an outboard motor is very different than an automobile and often leaves consumers confused and frustrated with the maintenance of their outboard. With the added complexity of smart engine features, Yamaha wants to ease the ownership experience through a mobile app that guides owners on how to operate and maintain their outboard motor while utilizing the outboard’s smart features.
My Role As The Design Lead
In a team consisting of myself and a product manager, I led the product direction with Yamaha’s key stakeholders, designed and led the research efforts with end-users. Because Yamaha had many directions envisioned for this new mobile application, I proposed that we spend the majority of our time understanding user needs that link with Yamaha’s business objective. To ensure that we cover user needs, I began with research consisting of interviews with boat owners and boat dealers to discover pain-points and areas of opportunities with the boat ownership and maintenance experience. From the interview sessions, I created customer segmentation, personas, journey maps and developed the wireframes of the app. Once a direction was established with end-users and Yamaha, I produced the final look-and-feel of the app and created a prototype of the experience.
The Solution… The New Yamaha Outboard Motor App
At Launch Know What Your Boat Is Up To
Common boat owners needs are addressed at the apps launch screen. Throughout the research phase with boat owners and boat dealers, issues can arise before the boat is even on the water. In the trip planning phase, boat owners commonly forget to check the fuel tank levels, and battery voltages; causing trips to be postponed or even canceled. The launch screen also provides in-depth data on the number of hours of use, notifies the owner of engine warnings (before a trip), counts down the time remaining before service is due and the location of his or her boat. Boating can be a dangerous activity, the launch screen helps boat owners to plan their boating trips by providing in-depth insights of their engine.
Not An Expert. Not A Problem. In-App Tutorials Help Users With How-Tos
Helping to bridge the gap of knowledge in the boating industry, the Yamaha Outboard app helps boat owners get up-to-speed on how to operate and maintain the outboard through easy to follow guided tutorials. New and experienced outboard owners often neglect or improperly maintain the outboard due to lack of knowledge or misleading information. A major step in owning an outboard is the break-in period. The break-in if done incorrectly, will cause serious permanent damage to the outboard. The Yamaha Outboard app guides both new and experienced users on how to properly break-in the outboard step-by-step. Avoiding costly repairs and warranty replacement.
Log Your Own Engine Maintenance
Experienced Users Can Log and Perform Their Own Service At Home
For some experienced boat owners, servicing & maintaining the outboard themselves is preferred over service at the dealership. Yamaha knows their customers well and understand that 70% of Yamaha’s experienced owners prefer to DIY maintenance at home. The Yamaha Outboards app allows their experienced owners to record the type of service done to the outboard. DIYers can follow how to perform the service themselves through the in-app video maintenance library and document the items bought to perform the service.
Know When Your Maintenance Is Due
Never Miss a Service With In-App Notifications
Owing a boat can be a complex hobby. Boats may require maintenance at different stages of ownership, hours of use, activity and water type (salt water-vs-fresh water). The Yamaha Outboards app accounts for these variables and notifies the user when service is due. Users can find dealers through the app or have the option of doing the service at home.
My Research Approach…How I Arrived To a Solution
The Old Outboard App
The old Yamaha Outboard motor app was released on the Google Play store in 2015. The old app focused on simplistic engine maintenance scheduling, viewing warranty information and finding local Yamaha dealers, which did not satisfy the demands of customers. Outboard engine owners want far more. Outboard engines are very complex and can be very difficult to maintain. Service can differ drastically based on the type of activity, hours of use and the type of water the engine is in (saltwater or freshwater). Adding additional complexity is Yamaha’s customer base, over half of Yamaha’s customers are new and or inexperienced to boating and have little knowledge on how to service their outboard engine.
Yamaha expressed the importance of redesigning the app to improve customer satisfaction and retention. My task as the lead product designer was to help Yamaha to see the value of user experience and user research to understand the needs of real customers, redesign the new experience of the app from the ground-up and provide Yamaha with ways to monetize the product. Future development of the app will be rolled out to the entire line of Yamaha outboard motors where a smart dongle will connect to non-smart engines giving Yamaha’s customers connectivity through the app.
Reviews Of The Old App
The old app reviews give us insight into why the app did not succeed and gives me a starting point in which to plan my research phase. Reading the reviews, I became aware that users want to have more functionality from the app. Across the reviews, outboard owners want to be able to understand what is happening to their engine and be able to be part of an engaging Yamaha experience. Consumer products need to serve a dual function, users of the product need to be able to fulfill a need or perform functions that ease and enhance the use of products. Consumers also want to be engaged through experiences that speak to them, customer incentives are key. The poor reviews of the app is a reflection of not knowing your customers’ needs and wants.
Competitive Research Phase
My Vessel app
To understand the market space better I began with a few rounds of looking at Yamaha’s main competitors in the outboard engine performance and maintenance space. The My Vessel app below represents what boat owners want in an engaging experience. The app provides basic features like fuel and MPG monitoring but the magic lays in other features like racing. Through the app, boat owners can race other boats, record the speed, RPM and share the race with friends via social media. The overall experience of the app brings a “next level” quality not seen in the outboard industry.
The Siren Marine app represents the other side of the spectrum in the mobile app outboard industry; a simple mobile app focusing on tools needed to monitor the engine status. The app provides lots of useful tools that boat owners need. When boaters are miles away from the shore, it’s critical to know their GPS location, the overall status of the engine, weather conditions and being able to operate safety features needed for emergency purposes. The Siren Marine app is a prime example of how boaters can benefit from the tools within the app. By looking at the overall landscape of Yamaha’s competitors provides me with an understanding of the needs and wants of boat owners and gives me a benchmark in which to design.
Understand User’s Needs & Pain-points Through User Interviews
The goal for my user interview with boat owners is to surface user needs and pain points. Myself and my product manager have little to no knowledge of boating, by interviewing with real boat owners I can quickly understand the day-to-day life experience of owning and maintaining a boat.
A common theme throughout the interview was the importance of engine maintenance. Each interviewee expressed that engine maintenance is a vital portion of any boater’s experience. A poorly maintained engine can leave a boater not spending time on his or her hobby like fishing and in some cases, leave a boater stranded in the middle of the ocean. Boating is a hobby where cost is a factor. Engine maintenance done at dealerships can cost up to and exceed $160.00 an hour. Experienced boaters tend to perform DIY service at home while inexperience boaters pay dealerships. A key discovery from the interview sessions is that engine maintenance is not complex and we can ease the knowledge gap by providing video tutorials on how to properly maintain the engine.
Top 4 Interviewees
Before meeting with Yamaha’s leadership to redesign their current outboard motors app, myself and my project manager interviewed 16 boat owners to understand what it means to be a boat owner and gain a perspective on boat engine maintenance. The goal of the interview sessions is to understand the process of boat ownership, document painpoints in the ownership process, explore areas of opportunities and surface user needs.
”Even though I'm really experienced in boat mechanics, a lot of people do not have the ability to check on simple things.Interviewee43yrs Boating Experince
Interview Discovery: Uncovering Common Themes & User Needs
-Takes to dealer for warranty issues
-Recreational Usage (fishing and or hunting)
-Pre-check boat before a trip 40min- 1hr
-Sells boats on average of 2-3 yrs
-Type of maintenance: oil, filer, fuel filters, batteries voltage, fuel level, oil is good, tire pressure on trailer & grease items
-Multiple apps open while in the water 2-3
-Maintenance free outboard
-An app that can validate DIY maintenance
-Location based dealer, restaurants, weather
-Overlaid info lake area, water depth & weather
-MPG dynamic speed adjustments
-Auto service reminder from engine PID
-App auto connects single and or multiple engines
-Education on boating for less experienced boaters
-To-do-list: So you know, what to fix after each trip
-View: oil & water pressure, cooling temps pressure, maintenance hours for service.
-Tracking engine hours
-Tracking multiple engines
-Scheduling service from dealers
-Not knowing fuel levels
-Seeing engine warnings too late
-Finding local service while on the water
-Tracking DIY service
-Not being able to monitor engine
-Not finding correct sources of info for my engine
-Forgetting when I served the engine
-Tracking service receipts for DIY maintenance
The user interviews serve as a starting point for the overall product direction. Through the user interviews, I found key areas of opportunities to pursue in the redesign of the Yamaha Outboards Motor app. Users rely on their boats in 2 ways, recreational boating for leisure and enjoyment while commercial boaters as a source of revenue. Both types of users need a way to monitor their boat engines from different locations. Boats can be stored at docks, home and or at boat garages. Boaters need a way to monitor the current status of the engine. Monitoring includes fuel, battery voltages, ignition status, engine warnings and hours of use.
Engine monitoring can also affect the safety of the boater. Even the most experienced recreational or commercial boater can forget to check basic things. In prepping for any kind of boat trip many considerations have to be accounted for; boaters need to consider things like food, water, work/hobby equipment, weather, trailer maintenance, etc. Boaters can easily forget to check one thing that can lead into a mishap on the water. In-app notifications and reminders will help even the most experienced boater from missing a vital step ensuring better overall safety.
Engine maintenance is a major phase in boat ownership. Yamaha’s customers’ experience level in boating can vary widely. Some recreational
customers can perform engine service themselves while a large majority of Yamaha’s recreational customers cannot. When interviewing both experienced and inexperienced recreational boaters, the majority of boat owners want to perform the service at home rather than service at the dealer but are afraid of doing so due to the lack of know-how. By providing easy to follow in-app tutorials on engine maintenance, we can bridge the knowledge gap and encourage inexperienced users to perform the service at home. Most commercial boaters are experienced enough to perform engine service themselves or via in-house staff. About 35% of commercial boaters service their engines at dealerships.
Below are a few more areas of opportunities that surfaced during the user interviews.
Areas Of Opportunity:
-Personalized ownership app
-In-app maintenance scheduling
-Guided engine procedures
-Live engine data
-Live engine warnings
-DIY service recording
-Hours of use monitoring
-Service history report
Aligning Yamaha to A Common Goal
With A Clear Understanding Of User Needs, It’s Time to Align The Entire Organization To Workable Goals!
The design sprint was an intensive 5-day effort to align Yamaha’s vision for its new Outboard engine experience. From the start, Yamaha came to the table with many preconceived ideas about what the new experience should be; It was my task to steer Yamaha into the direction of listening to real needs from actual customers. The start of the design sprint began with sharing-out the results of the research. The research unveiled that users need an easier way to know what their boat engine is doing and inform them of what’s needed. Some customers may want to take their boat engines to dealerships for service, while other customers want to learn how to perform the service themselves. The main area of opportunity is bridging the gap of engine specific knowledge on how to properly perform the service.
After the research share out, we began to explore basic but very tangible business priorities. It’s important that we know what customers we want to pursue, who’s our major competitor in the space of mobile engine maintenance and monitoring, understand what key factors customers need when performing engine maintenance and of course; what will be our offering to customers in the form of features. Yamaha knowns their customers well and have a great understanding of the major types of engine repairs needed from both DIY customers and dealerships. Yamaha also documents the types of issues customers have with their engine and with maintenance. Working with Yamaha in the design sprint phase of the project allows me to understand the details of engine repairs and how Yamaha wants its customers to perform maintenance to their engines.
Defining our goals.
I.T., marketing & business creating personas.
Laying Out Our Strategy
An important step in the development of any product is understanding who we want to target and who are the other major players in this space (boat engine service & monitoring). By gathering these key elements we can strategize ways to provide value to our target users and provide them with helpful incentives to enrich the customer experience. The design sprint kicked off with a group discussion with Yamaha’s senior leadership, I.T., and marketing where myself and my P.M. shared-out the results of the user interviews. Through our group discussion, we were able to map out key elements from the research to Yamaha’s business objectives. The user interviews help Yamaha to see the real-world issues and demands of end-users which could generate both revenue and satisfy business objectives.
Yamaha’s Business Objectives
-Increase adoption rate
–Ease the ownership experience
–Drive users to register engine through app
-Record service of engine
-Dealership access of service history from app
-Revitalize Yamaha’s brand experience
Our Target Audience
Yamaha has 2 major customers in mind for their new outboard motor app. Recreational boaters and small to mid-size fishing enthusiast are the major buyers of Yamaha outboard engines. A recreational boater uses his/her boat for activities like swimming, snorkeling, wake surfing, and water skiing. Recreational boaters also enjoy other types of leisure activities like spending time with family & friends on specialized boats called Pontoons which are long boats with large amounts of deck space with big loungers and recliners for “kicking-back” and relaxing. Small to mid-size fishing enthusiast fish in many types of waters throughout the year and include a variety of age groups that fish as a hobby or compete in fishing tournaments.
Knowing Our Users & Developing Empathy
The next phase of the design sprint is focused on understanding our target audience and understanding who they are. Design sprint participants are broken into teams, each team has a mixed grouping of senior leadership, marketing, I.T., design, and development working together to develop a persona and empathy map. Both the persona and empathy map gives us a perspective over who we are designing for and gives us context over what our target audience thinks and feels while boating. This perspective gives us greater insight into what paths we should account for in the design phase. The results of this exercise yield very similar results to be accounted for; recreational and fishing enthusiast both share thoughts and feelings of being free and the sense of pride and enjoyment of being a boat owner. The main difference between the 2 types of customers is based upon the specific actives done on the water.
Understanding The Ownership Experience
With an understanding of who our users are and what they think and feel, we move to the next phase of mapping out the end-to-end ownership experience from purchase at the dealership to selling the outboard. On average, boaters enjoy having the latest and greatest outboard available. The journey map shows that fishing enthusiast sell and trade-in outboards on a higher rate than recreational boaters. Both types of customers prefer to spend more time on the water rather than having the outboard being stuck at dealerships or service repair shops. The servicing of the outboard engine is similar across both types of users, and the depending factor for engine service is the hours of use and the type of water the outboard engine is in (freshwater vs saltwater).
Discovering The Maintenance Procedures
Servicing the outboard for fishing enthusiast and recreational boaters highly depend on how the outboard engine is used and the type of water. A major area of consideration is the inexperienced outboard engine owner as they often do not know how to properly maintain the outboard engine. The main factor in service is due to the hours of use and the type of water the outboard engine is in. Many factors are involved in the proper maintenance of the outboard, cooling systems, lower units, corrosion and fuel systems, will be affected by the water type and need special attention and care. By creating a separate journey map of how the outboard engines is serviced throughout the ownership experience, we can target design elements to help boaters understand the key differences, educate and guide them on how to properly service their outboard engine.
The Outcomes Of The Design Sprint
The outcome of the design sprint brought out important elements needed to begin the design phase of the project. Key areas revolved around understanding the differences in engine service based on the type of water the boater is in, along with the specific components that need attention and care. Across the board, all boaters tend to have similar experience around the prep phase of a boat trip. No matter the experience level of the boater the common thread among the users is simply not having the right/proper information to perform the task needed and or forgetting to perform a certain task which can lead to a damaged outboard or safety issues. Below are additional key findings that surfaced from the design sprint, a game plan on my teams next steps and a product road map to keep the entire project aligned.
- Inexperienced boaters are often left out
- Inexperienced boaters lack service knowledge
- Experienced can improperly service outboard
- Key differences in service is water type
- Boaters use outboard in different ways
- Focus on educating boaters on service
- Recreational boater keep outboards longer
- Fishing enthusiast upgrade outboard 3yrs
- More boating less engine service
- Boaters forget service& precheck
- Over half of Yamaha’s customers DIY service
- Boaters want to track location while on water
- Mobile based solution
Sketching The Experience
The Workshop Produced Everything Needed To Redesign A New Experience.
The sketching process allows me to quickly capture user needs into a format that has content, structure and an interaction flow. With this method, I’m free to produce many concepts without being locked to one particular idea. The design sprint captured key elements needed to understand our customer base and ways to resolve user pain points. Below are a few examples of the sketching done throughout my design process.
Gaining Access To The App
One area not addressed in the design sprint was the sign-on process. The sign on allows users to gain access to his/her outboard engine through the app. With the Yamaha Outboards motor app, a layer of security is needed to verify the outboard engine owner. With cooperation with dealerships, a PIN ID number is used to verify the customer’s information and validates ownership of the outboard engine. The PIN ID is automatically generated at the dealership at purchase and is given to the customer.
Tracking Your Boat Trips
Knowing Where You Are
Tracking location is a customer requested feature that allows users to track current location and store historical accounts of places been. Trip logs record the outboard engine’s data like RPM, speed, and provides suggestions for better performance and MPG.
Log Service At Home
The ability to log DIY service is one of the most impactful and powerful features in the new Outboard Motor app. Yamaha customers want and need a way to know what type is service is due, how to perform the service and most importantly, a way to validate the service once finish. Here users get notified when the service is due and is provided with a detailed list of what is needed. Customers can follow how-to tutorials about the service and upload receipts for items bought for the service.
Wireframing The Experience
Getting Detailed Through Wireframes
Through the use of wireframes, I can bring to life all the details not seen through sketching. Here, I digitally create wireframes to layout product features, explore how the app will function and flow. Wireframes allow me to see and think about the product as a system where hierarchy and structure play a major role in the usability of the product. With sketches, I’m free to quickly explore many wild ideas for specific user pain points, where wireframes allow me to dig much deeper into the problem and see the product as a unified system and flow. Below are a few wireframes from my design process.
The sign-on process is the first entry point for new users. The sign-on has 2 purposes, it allows users to enter the app by creating log-in information and validates the ownership of the outboard engine. When purchasing a new outboard engine at the dealership, owners are given a unique PIN ID which links the engine to the owner. The PIN ID is used for security purposes and allows users to access engine data through the app. Thousands of outboard engines are stolen per year, the PIN ID validation process gives users confidence that his or her outboard data is secure.
Getting To Know Our Users
With additional feedback and suggestions from Yamaha, the onboarding experienced shifted to a different direction. In an endless effort to bring the best customer satisfaction to its customers, Yamaha wants to understand how their customers use their products. Customers can input their boating style and type of activity. Yamaha will use these customer insights to improve the experience of the app and provide custom information to their users.
After the sign-in process, the app will then take users to the launch screen. The launch screen gives users the overall status of their outboard engine. Vital elements like fuel levels, battery voyages, engine warnings, total hours of use and a countdown of their next service interval is available. Boaters no longer have to remember or guess what their outboard engine is doing
For new boaters, it can be a very complex and confusing process of owning an outboard. The engine break-in procedure is a mechanical conditioning of internal parts within the engine. If done incorrectly the outboard can be damaged. This portion is a guided step-by-step tutorial showing users how to properly break-in the outboard.
Users can navigate throughout the app via the hamburger menu. The hamburger menu slides from the left, giving users the ability to access their user profile, the boat engine status and the service and maintenance portion of the app.
Knowing Our Users
If the user profile set-up is skipped during the onboarding process, users still can add content about how they use their outboard. By providing this content, the app can customize the maintenance intervals accordingly to how the boater plans on using the outboard engine.
Operating The Outboard
The my boat section is broken into 4 individual parts accessible by tabs. This area provides boat owners with vital information about their outboard engine. 80% of users misplace the owners manual of the outboard, causing confusion in the ownership experience. The my boat section also includes how-to tutorials and performance bulletins, giving users the ability to service and understand the performance of the outboard engine.
The my trips area allows users to perform 3 major tasks. Users can record a plotted point on a map of places visited and see the performance of the outboard engine from different locations. Users can also store a historical account of all the places visited in the past. The pre and post check areas remind users of what’s needed before a boat trip is launched and provides helpful and important tips on tasks needed after wrapping-up.
The Design System
The main content area allows for the overall content to be placed within this confined area. A padding of 10 pixels surrounds the outer border separating the boundary of the content area from the edges of the screen. The main content area represents where content will be placed and helps provide an overarching structure for content.
Large & Small Cards
The main content area is a container for large and small cards. Cards allow content to be neatly organized and placed within the main content area. Content placed within cards may vary from analytics to text. Large amounts of analytics such as performance stats, RPMs, speed, etc., are placed within large cards, smaller cards are designated for an overview of information and content.
How Small & Large Cards Work
Large and small cards have the freedom to be divided into sections. Small cards are divided into 2 main areas. The first area signifies the order of the card, an example can be the 1st, 2nd & 3rd boating trips. The second area of the small card is designated for an overview summary of the content. Once tapped, the small card expands to display the details of the card.
Adding Actions To Cards
Cards & C.T.As
Depending on the situation, cards may also hold C.T.A (call to actions) like a button. Large cards can hold content related to engine maintenance and or service intervals. The C.T.As are placed within the cards allowing users to perform actionable items relating to the content of the card.