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A customer-centric success: A look at ParkMate’s app redesign



Mobile App Development UI/UX

A customer-centric success: A look at ParkMate’s app redesign

ParkMate’s premise is a straightforward one: do more.

From their beginnings as a text-based parking system where you would use SMS to find and book a space, to their recently redesigned mobile app, ParkMate, has always been at the forefront of streamlined parking experiences in New Zealand.

Their secret to success? A relentless pursuit of customer-centric solutions. 

Unlike other attention-seeking apps on the app store, ParkMate is not interested in keeping users on the app. There's no endless video feed and no likes or comments to capture engagement - instead, it’s an app that knows its function and delivers on it.

You open the ParkMate app because you want to park.

You close the ParkMate app because your parking is sorted.

And because it was easy to do so.

The ParkMate experience is about giving time back to users. For the user’s sake, they want the process of parking, and the technology that enables it, to fade into the background. 

So how did ParkMate build an app that delivers a frictionless parking experience? 

Through leveraging the technology partnership between TNS and Sandfield.

‘We don’t know tech, we know parking. It’s really important to stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology and partnering with TNS and Sandfield allows us to do that.’

Steve Williams ParkMate’s General Manager - Commercial

ParkMate’s next evolution

2015 saw the launch of ParkMate’s mobile application on the iOS and Android app stores. Though the premise for ParkMate’s digital service remained the same in the transition, their mobile app meant they had a competitive edge in the market, and were adapting to 21st Century consumer demands. 

Since then, though, technology standards and the language of design has evolved. In 2021, it was apparent that the app needed a refreshed user experience (perhaps they read our article: Four indicators that it’s time to rebuild your mobile app). ParkMate engaged RUSH Digital, who got to work crafting the UI design. For expertise in mobile application development though, they turned to Edge — Sandfield’s custom development team — who, in the early phases of the design, were able to consult on the system and technical capabilities as well as limitations. The result was a vision to completely re-imagine the user experience and the not-so-small task of building it. 

In the end, the refresh was rolled out within six months - a phenomenally fast turnaround time when you take into consideration that not a single UI element was carried across from the previous version.

Working on such an aggressive timeline, the Edge team had to re-engineer components such as the sign-up, park procurement and checkout experiences, all the while ensuring compatibility with both iOS and Android’s operating system. They did so through a series of sprints, leveraging their unique insider knowledge of parking - gained from a long-term relationship ParkMate - to release the update in June of 2022. 

Another important contributing factor in the success of this project was the quality of backend code that the Edge team had to work with. Having built the server side of the operation back in 2015, the Edge team could trust the database they were working with and focus on the frontend, which would function as the ‘window’ into the backend. As it was made to scale, it wasn’t necessary for the backend to be altered. At all.

Undeniably a huge win for both ParkMate and the Edge team, this meant that the communication between the frontend and backend remained responsive and seamless. Users would continue to receive accurate and relevant information about carparks, parking sessions and rates right on their phone, with an experience to match, and even surpass, their expectations.

This update was, through and through, user-centric.

Four indicators that it’s time to rebuild your mobile app

Architecting the app and the transition

Within ten days of the app’s release, a significant number of users had updated to the latest version - speaking to both the quality of the update and the positive reception it received. Through this transition, there were two key priorities:

  1. Supporting the old app version for those yet to update

  2. Avoiding downtime

The first came down to the app’s architecture, supported by the app’s robust backend, and how the update was communicated to customers. Knowing that both versions would exist concurrently, and for an unknowable length of time, meant that Edge was able to seamlessly support both app versions while sunsetting the old app in an elegant manner. 

Furthermore, Edge worked closely with TNS both pre and post-release in order to communicate with customers and ensure a seamless transition. This was essential when, for example, users needed to be warned that they would have to sign in again upon download.

The second, though, became a critical consideration for the team. After all, they were working with a high-volume system that saw between 10,000 and 20,000  sessions a day - often starting early in the morning and going late into the night. Downtime would not only affect ParkMate’s bottom line, but the customer experience - there was no room to compromise. 

Rising to the challenge, Edge’s rollout of the update was completely seamless. It had undergone several rounds of testing, including internally within Sandfield as well as testflight-enabled testing. Having rebuilt the app in the industry standard React Native, migrating from legacy platform PhoneGap, the technology now enabled an easier, more efficient ability to maintain and update the app. The app was built to withstand all testing, and Edge’s team of expert mobile application developers were there to swiftly respond to any gaps or flaws identified as a part of the process.

Since the app redesign, ParkMate’s downloads have increased by 25% every month, and their average transaction value has gone up too. But the statistic ParkMate are most happy with relates to customer satisfaction. Before the new version, the app had a low star rating on mobile app stores, but now are sitting at 4.5 stars on the iOS app store.

‘We, as a business, have business goals. Then we have customers who have goals. And then we have a technical side of it. It’s really important we balance those three and merge them together.’

Steve Williams ParkMate’s General Manager - Commercial

Like Sandfield, ParkMate’s measure of success is tied to customer-centric solutions. It’s what makes for such a strong partnership.

Though in ParkMate’s case they’re looking to give time back to users - time to shop, work, enjoy dinner and meet friends - ours is in crafting custom software that gives our customers an edge. The ParkMate app redesign? It does both.

Need custom software from developers with a proven track record? At Sandfield, your success is our success. Reach out today to see how we can solve your business challenge.