Volta Charging


Role: UX/UI Designer — Lead + contract design manager | Product: iOS + Android



Volta's electric vehicle chargers couldn't be more perfect — pull up, plug in, get a free charge, and go. But Volta's next phase of growth requires a clearer picture of our customer’s needs and behavior to intelligently scale our charging network. Integrating and requiring the mobile app for charging can bring both business insights and customer value but this Check In MVP feature needs to be fueled, for the first time, by our electric vehicle drivers and their needs.




Design a user-need-based, low-friction, low-latency experience across our mobile, charger, and cloud architecture


Converge mobile app users and EV charging drivers into a seamless Check In experience


Identify and build value-add features to offset expected Check In friction

Rollout new Check In process for Level 2 electric vehicle chargers




Competitive analysis



Tesla is best in class for their Check In system but our “open source” competition streamlines their Check In experience with mobile NFC (Near Field Communication) or RFID cards. (That’s going on the roadmap!)





Our key Personas each benefit from the gifts our Check In feature can bring, plus they each has experienced “Check In” before. We see each Persona wanting a streamlined experience with transparency and support throughout.




Customer Journey



Range anxiety is a part of all Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) driver’s experiences so lets give them transparency tools during transit (1), expect tension on arrival for Check In, and position the mobile app to lower brain strain throughout the mobile and charging experience (2, 3, 4).

  1. Notification of charger status change

  2. Charger proximity automation

  3. Manual refresh charger status

  4. Communicative charger states



Condensed Check In flow



Create transparency and keep user interest through laggy mobile-to-cloud-charger (and back again) moments with entertaining and informative illustrations and animations

Marketing banner for Check In announcement is problematic and has overly complex functionality


User interviews


“Driving to a charger and not knowing whether it’s going to be available when I get there always makes me nervous. Ideally I’d want to know it’s gonna be there and ready for me.”



Reserve a charger


“I'd prefer to follow instructions on my phone to indicate I'm doing things correctly.



Check In sequencer with contextual tutorial



Customers are comfortable with signing up for a charge

Check In is common to most charing experiences

Idle fees are desirable (keeps everyone honest)

Users love, love, love push notifications



Based on customer feedback, competitive analysis, and our business roadmap, we built an effort v benefit map for feature prioritization



  • Notifications: before or during charge session

  • Streamlined check in

  • Simplified sign in/up

  • Zero sign in/up

  • Contextual FAQ

  • Charger proximity automation

  • Manual refresh charger status

Post Launch

  • NFC connection

  • On-screen signage

  • Report an issue updates

  • Plug in then check in

  • Charger reservation

  • Charge history

  • Payments (for fast charging)

  • Dark mode

  • Realtime stats




Internal usability testing

User testing signage V1b.jpg

“I understand the signage,
I just didn’t pay attention to it”


“My Mitsubishi app is crap, I don’t think they’ve updated it in years. That’d be cool if I could see how much electricity I’m getting in the Volta app; my dashboard doesn’t even have a gauge for the EV part.”


“I use my Tesla app to see how fast I’m charging.”


“If I’ve been successful in the past using the same system then I there’s no reason to pay attention to anything. When my car said I was fueling, that’s all I needed.”



Signage “understood” but not read (existing users require strong multi-channel messaging and strong habit disruption)

Emergency (no Check In) charge creates “false positives” and should be removed

Lots of diversity in cars, their apps, and their owners


External usability testing


“The charger isn’t working so I’ll just use the app to report an issue and leave.”


“That’d be a good thing to have, find where the car is parked in app. If I forget where car is when I’ve parked in big parking lot.


“Would go to work, assume that I would get a notification when charge is down and move car.”


“I’ve been doing this a long time so I know how long it takes to charge up but it’d be nice if Volta told me when my charge was done. I don’t want to hog the spot. I see that all the time.”



Up to 70% Check In success (now we’re talking)

Final signage was the most successful

Less steps in Check In flow (automate card open, remove Check In Preview, less charging screens)

Contextualized tutorial was faster to engineer but not highly effective — Check In sequencer with contextual tutorial is next!


Design updates for launch


Check In flow

Check In Preview and multiple screens beyond “Starting your charge” were removed to streamline the user flow



We focused on brand tone and feel for this slightly scaled back Tutorial version, which was required to honor our hard launch date

Simpler but doable - Made with Adobe XD


Charger rows

Left: charger rows as buttons was problematic, along with a Check In button, which made users say “Aren’t I already Checked In?”

Right: buttons specify actionable states while Available and In use rows are faster to identify



We’ve still got a long way to go but MVP is out the door for a staggered rollout, starting at SoNo Connecticut. Retraining users is hard work, no wonder Tesla opted for the gas station model. Latency is our worst enemy and a state-based design ecosystem has now become our north star.


Next steps

Screen Shot 2019-10-10 at 2.59.55 PM.png

North East launch coming up…


Thank you