Context

Growing pains

Postmates had been successful and steadily growing, but in the competitive space of on-demand delivery our product felt stagnant. Though we could make incremental improvements, the core experience had remained largely unchanged and we struggled to innovate.

We decided to evolve our product with a redesign that would lay the groundwork for future improvements. This redesign was an overhaul across all platforms that resulted in an updated visual identity and a more modernized, flexible Postmates.

Challenge

The existing app

Postmates is known among other players in the on-demand delivery space for one thing: the ability to deliver from virtually any store or restaurant in a city. That flexibility posed a particular challenge: how could we effectively present places in an understandable way?

Combing through insights from user feedback and our own experiences, it was clear that our core experience as it stood was not understandable. Many of the same issues kept coming up:

An unorganized feed

A long list of seemingly unsorted places, the feed left users confused and hungry—many scrolled to the bottom thinking that was all we had to offer, unaware they could search for more.

Convoluted menus

Many places had complicated menus with nested categories and subcategories. Seeing item names and prices required tapping through multiple levels, which was frustrating for users.

Inconsistencies everywhere

Over time, differing priorities for iOS, Android, and web had left Postmates lacking feature parity across platforms. One-off components and visual bugs were rampant.

Goals

Goals to deliver on

With intense pressure both internal and external to deliver the redesign, defining design goals specific to our project was paramount to our success. We operated on three in particular:

Build a strong foundation.

As tempting as it was, fixing UX issues was not the main priority for this project. Instead, we needed to build a foundation of visual styles and components to leverage for future improvements and features.

Simplify and systematize.

A redesign afforded the design team a much-needed opportunity to consolidate existing styles and define a system not only for the consumer app, but for the company as a whole.

Recognize potential.

Let’s be honest: no design is ever really finished. With that in mind, we had to maintain velocity to ship on time but also recognize and prioritize opportunities for improvement that could be saved for later.

Process

Our team and tools

Three designers worked on the effort: Ben was our lead designer and owned iOS, while SatAmrit owned web and I owned Android. We worked in parallel in weekly sprints, and Thursday critiques with the rest of the design team kept us grounded.

Tools employed included notebooks, whiteboards, Sketch, Abstract, and Principle, and we shifted from low-fidelity sketches and wireframes to high-fidelity mocks as we progressed.

Iteration

Feeling out the feed

The feed was central to Postmates' browsing experience, and it was the first thing we tackled. We explored a wide variety of components from carousels to cards, and everything in between.

Through our early explorations, a distinct visual style began to emerge: more contrast and whitespace established visual hierarchy, while bolder colors and imagery felt fresh. Ben set up a type and color system that we iterated on, and we also adopted a new logotype.

Feedback heard, decisions made

As we designed, our engineering team translated each week's screens into code, pushing out weekly builds of the new app to the company. Receiving feedback from fellow employees was crucial to our success, enabling us to make some key decisions.

No more overlays

Overlays allowed higher information density, placing restaurant and store info above images and freeing more space in the feed. However, users were overjoyed when we tested placing this meta below instead.

Removing the tab bar

Our original tab bar allowed users to switch between verticals, and we also explored a navigational tabs as well. Removing the tab bar entirely opened up the screen to card-style navigation and gestures.

Collections over carousels

While carousels enabled horizontal scrolling, they interrupted the vertical scrolling flow of the feed. We moved forward with a new concept of collections, reserving the x-axis for swiping to Account and Search.

Solution

New feed, new collections

The final design pushed a radical rethinking of the feed. Images are now front and center, with clearer type hiearchy and whitespace eliminating the need for overlays. Swiping down on the feed reveals collections—a new, flexible model for grouping food, drinks, and more.

Making menus manageable

We compressed menus into a single level, with item names, prices, descriptions, and images all visible once you clicked into a merchant. A dropdown allowed navigation across categories within a menu.

Streamlining orders and deliveries

Cart, checkout, and tracking screens were all updated to make placing an order as easy as possible. Some screens saw their first updates in years, with new summaries for order and delivery details.

Account on the left, search on the right

Without a tab bar for navigation, we kept Account and Search accessible on the sides feed content. Viewing past deliveries or searching for a restaurant is as easy as swiping right or left.

Styling settings and more

We extended our new visual system across every screen in the app, including flows for tipping and rating, settings, and referrals flows.

Conclusion

A new Postmates, delivered

The redesign was gradually rolled out to users over multiple weeks, with a complete launch on November 7, 2017, a few weeks after I left. To help design a new foundation for the future of Postmates was an amazing opportunity, and I feel proud of the work we accomplished. Check out the new Postmates on the App Store, Play Store, or online, and read about the launch in TechCrunch.

Endless gratitude goes to Ben and SatAmrit for your camaraderie and mentorship throughout the project. Thanks also to the rest of the design team for your feedback and help, and to the Buyer team for believing in us and our designs.