IdeaScale Case Study: OneBusAway mobile app feedback widget

OneBusAway is an open-source project started by students at the University of Washington. Using publicly available information from a number of transit agencies in the Seattle area, OneBusAway provides easy access to real-time arrival information for buses. How does it work? The commuter can either use a website, call a phone number, txt message, or download an iPhone or Android app to their smart phone. IdeaScale is happy to see OneBusAway using our mobile feedback widget which is allowing OneBusAway (and a lot of other great apps) the ability to collect feedback right within their app. We had a short conversation with Brian Ferris of OneBusAway to ask him about his experience using the IdeaScale widget for mobile feedback.

IS: What’s your goal including the IdeaScale widget in your mobile app?

OBA: There are a ton of new features we could add to OneBusAway, but we have limited developer resources (aka even I have to sleep sometimes). IdeaScale is useful to us to get feedback on what new features users want and which features are most important. While the IdeaScale feedback link we’ve added to the main website has been great at generating feedback, a large portion of our user-base primarily interacts with OneBusAway using the iPhone and other mobile apps. The IdeaScale iPhone widget will help us receive feedback from them as well.

IS: What’s the best feedback or bug report you’ve received?

OBA: Our current #1 feature request is trip planning, which is not surprising to me. What was surprising to me was that for a while, stop approach notifications was the #1 feature request (it’s currently #2). While this is definitely a cool feature that we’ve talked about before, I would not have predicted that the community would want it so badly. It’s lead us to re-prioritize our efforts to get to that new feature sooner rather than later.

Also, I wouldn’t have predicted that there would be so much demand for a WP7 client, especially since you can’t even buy these phones yet. The guys over in Redmond must be voting a lot : )

IS: How quickly do you typically implement a suggestion or fix a bug?

OBA: For critical bugs, I try to fix it in less than a week. New features can take a bit longer. It’s really a question of how much I can get away with before my advisors at UW start complaining that I should be working on finishing my dissertation and not writing so much code.

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