Deutsche Bahn Navigator Relaunch

The curse of being the first

With the DB Navigator, the Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) brought out a digital product that has added a new dimension to customer relations in an increasingly mobile and networked world. A head start in the competitive mobility field, however, can be a curse as well as a blessing because if you want to stay ahead, you have to keep up with digitalization.

12 million users make the DB Navigator one of the most-used apps in Germany. But in 2013, Germany’s favourite travel companion was getting a bit outdated. While new intuitive and connected apps were appearing, attuned to the changed user requirements, the DB Navigator was struggling with the ravages of time: old-fashioned design, cumbersome usage and incorrect information were some of the problem areas identified that made a relaunch urgently necessary. So the Deutsche Bahn asked Scholz & Volkmer to step in and bring the DB Navigator up to date.

“What we wanted was to upgrade the DB Navigator to a tool that would offer the best possible service to customers before, during and after their journeys.”

Judith Schütz, Creative Direction bei Scholz & Volkmer.

To simplify its use as far as possible and to make its many functions accessible to the user, the content and the structure of the DB Navigator design was adapted to what is currently the norm, such as flat design according to iOS8, but a logical restructuring of the content was also of prime importance. The aim was to create an app for their more than 20 million users which was intuitive and fun to interact with so that the full functionality from information to booking tickets right through to on-the-spot navigation could be fully taken advantage of. The team also put a special focus on the new feature “Meine Reise” (My Journey) that is regarded as a value-added companion at all times during the journey.

The new feature “Meine Reise” (“My Journey”) is the centrepiece of the Navigator relaunch. At a glance, users can obtain all the relevant travel details and real-time information on the journey booked. Is my train delayed? Will I get my connection? Do I need to get a different connection?

Customers experienced particular difficulties when there were significant problems and delays and it is here that “My Journey” will give travellers real support in the future, and this addresses a very specific user requirement.

”The relaunch of the DB Navigator is certainly on the right lines but it cannot go as far as it actually should, due to its complexity. The fact is, UX design is the product design for the digital economy – and it is never-ending.“

Peter Post 

The structure of the DB Navigator with all its contents and interfaces to databases means that a closely connected collaboration with the customer is essential. Because of this, every change in the front end automatically means complex processes in the back end. This is why parts of the team regularly worked on site at the Deutsche Bahn and also Bahn employees were integrated into the Scholz & Volkmer team.

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