Trading used cars is a slow and cumbersome process, especially for dealers. Texts are replied to with emails and emails are replied to with phone calls. Keeping track of the conversation, price, offers, and vehicle details has been a problem in the used car industry for decades. But even if the transaction process were simpler, a dealer can’t make an offer on a vehicle without knowing it’s condition.
VinSwitch is a conceptual mobile app that makes trading vehicles easy. Dealers can scan the vehicles bar code and then add a condition report. From there, the vehicle can be sent to other dealers and an offer can be made. Then, a conversation is automatically started between the dealers for that specific vehicle.
With a dominant male target audience and the most ground-breaking app in the industry, the brand had to be simple and bold, yet professional and recognizable. To accomplish this, I used an ultra-simple “V” for the logo accompanied by subtle slant shapes, soothing blues, and a yellow accent to create the brand identity. This fine balance of characteristics makes the app appealing and accessible to everyone.
The creation of the app started with mapping the user flow and behavior between pages. Defining the page architecture is the most critical step in the design of a complex system likeVinSwitch. The map below gave my clients and myself the ability to make high-level decisions with a birds-eye view of the entire application.
Dashboards can’t just look exciting, they also have to work. The dashboard allows users to see vehicles they received, purchased, sent, and sold over a specified period of time. Once a category and time frame are selected, results populate the bottom half of the screen which allows a dealer to see a bird’s eye view of their business quickly get to a specific vehicle without ever leaving the screen.
The vehicle year, make, model, VIN, color, milage, and name of the dealer all had to be clearly visible on numerous pages to ensure that the dealers know exactly which car was being referenced. For example, a single dealer could be selling multiple 2006 Honda Civics that can only be distinguished by the VIN number, color, or milage. That meant making the information compact, yet clearly legible. It also required hiding some information while making it easily accessible via a swipe or tap gesture.
Reporting the condition of a vehicle is a tedious and time-consuming process for auto dealers. To simplify this process in the app, I designed two reporting options. The first collects only the most critical information such as overall damage, scratches, and repair costs. The second allows dealers to report the details of every damaged panel and attach photos.
To minimize the back-and-forth behavior in a complex workflow, I kept the list of panels on the same screen and used popup dialogs so the user never has to leave the screen. This simple solutions reduces the time it takes to complete a report by several minutes.
Making such a complex, feature-rich application feel simple and consistent for the user was no easy task. Users can often teach themselves how to use a new app if these two things are executed well. I started by designing a style guide, which is a library of buttons, text styles, and modules that serve as visual rules. Then I used those styles and rules to construct each of the 85+ screens. The result was a consistent interface that was easy to learn and follow for the dealers using the app for the first or 100th time.
Dealers who adopt the VinSwitch app are likely to use it frequently. To help reduce eye strain, especially in bright or very low-lit environments, I designed the entire app using a dark interface scheme. The main challenge when designing a dark interface is maintaining contrast. Too much and some areas are too dark. To little and users can’t distinguish various sections of the screen. This fine-tuned delicate balance is what makes the design of the VinSwitch app so beautiful and attractive.
My love for design and cars made this one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on. While there were unique and exciting challenges along the way, knowing that every screen was given the most love and care possible made this long and tedious project worthwhile. With the VinSwitch app, thousands of auto dealers around the country will be able to consolidate their conversations, perform more accurate condition reports, and confidently sell more vehicles.