Measurement Units @ RV LIFE

How can we design the system settings for Metric and Imperial Systems to best help our RVers who travel internationally?

Summer 2022

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SoME Context

At RV LIFE, our mission is to make RVing easier for our users through our RV safe GPS tool and trip planning tool. While our user base predominantly resides in the US, we also have a significant number of users who travel through Canada to Alaska, as well as a smaller group of Canadian users. Understanding the diverse needs of our users, we recognized the importance of providing the ability to switch between the Metric and Imperial systems to accommodate different needs and preferences. This prompted a crucial question: where should this setting be located within our tools, and how should they work? Stakeholders engaged in extensive discussions before approaching me to conduct research.


First, I had a Brain Dump meeting with the Stakeholders to uncover assumptions and better understand the business needs and limitations.

What was clear after this meeting was that there was a lot we did not know about how users navigated between these two systems of measurements. I knew that I had to speak with users to understand their needs, and since we already had design work done from previous designers, I decided to conduct moderated A/B Testing. I felt that these visual artifacts would help users conceptualize how these settings would fit into the tool.

I set out to write a Research Plan which included the research goals, research participant parameters, user interview questions and prototype tasks.


Determine what level the metric/imperial settings should be stored: User Profile Settings or RV Settings

Determine whether the individual settings should be broken down (weight, volume, length) or grouped together (metric, imperial)

The Research participants

I wanted to speak to users who crossed the border a few times a year. Our user base also skews older so it was important to speak with users within that demographic.

A Lesson! The recruiting process was difficult because most of our users are based in the U.S, so I ended up speaking with a few users who did not yet cross the border in their RV. These users had experience with crossing the border in their cars so we spoke about the concepts in a general sense, but it is something I should have confirmed prior to scheduling interviews. I had included the parameters in my email communication, but I should have sent out a screening survey as well.

the research

User Interview

I spoke with users about how they navigate between the two systems while traveling. I also wanted to gain a better understanding of how they thought about the systems so I spoke with them about general use cases as well. Below are a few questions I asked:

A/B Testing

We had a few potential ideas for a solution so I conducted A/B Testing with the prototyped designs. While I observed, I had users work through a few tasks with two versions of the Unit of Measurements Settings and once they were done, I asked a few follow up questions about their experiences. Below are the two flows I was testing which tied to my first goal of understanding where these settings should be stored:

Lessons & Takeaways

A Lesson! One user wasn't able to load the Maze on his iPad due to the large file size and unreliable Wi-Fi at the campground he was staying in. We were able to talk through the designs verbally so all was not lost, but in the future I will have a backup plan for this scenario. I could have sent him the Figma prototype or show him the designs side by side on my screen.

Interesting Takeaway! One user had brought up weather settings which we had not considered. I added it to the Research Plan as a topic to discuss, and we ended up incorporating it in the final designs as well.

The Analysis

I used Great Questions as a Product Management tool to help me manage the User Interviews. It helped me easily schedule time, track email outreach, host the videos, and transcribe the interviews. Once I completed the interviews, I created buckets of insight types and went through the transcriptions and tagged them.

These were the buckets:

Big Question: How can I get my colleagues engaged with the research?

During prior projects, I had written Research Debriefs but I was given the feedback that it was too much documentation. This time, I created a FigJam to make it more interactive, a sort of 'museum of findings' which my colleagues could explore at their own pace. I also included recordings from User Interviews and images to make it more engaging. This worked well - stakeholders were very engaged!

THe findings

Goal: Determine whether the settings should be broken out (weight, volume, length) or grouped as one (metric, imperial)

Users expressed that they have needs and preferences to utilize the two systems simultaneously. This is in part because the system changed in 1970 in Canada and many of our users were raised with the Imperial systems and still prefer it for certain cases.

"In Canada, when we talk about how long our RV is, we speak in Feet... That's how we talk. I don't even know what the other option is. Meters? We don't talk in Meters, not when you're measuring your RV. I've never heard anybody say how long their RV is in Meters." - Trudy

"I grew up using miles and it wasn't until high school that they decided to switch to Metric I find it easier to comprehend the distance in miles. It's easier for me to calculate in my head: okay, 50 miles is an hour." - Rick

Goal: Determine at what level the metric/imperial settings should be stored: User Profile Settings or the RV Settings

After deciding to have the settings broken out, this was an easy decision. We decided that these settings should be stored at the Profile Level rather than the RV Level because users expressed wanting to be able to change all of the settings, so if thinking about the app holistically, it makes sense to have those settings at the profile level which then trickles down to the RV.

Additional Findings

1. A third unit of measurement should be added for Units of Fluid: US Gallon (USA), Imperial Gallon (Canada), Liter (Mexico)

“Up here, Canadians, we still talk miles per gallon on an Imperial gallon and miles. But we also talk liters for 100 km. So that's the metric equivalent. We kind of flip back and forth in Canada, different people use different things.” - Joe

2. Height and Length should be broken out as separate selections because in Canada, they measure the RV’s length in feet, but the height in meters

“In height, we do use metric here because all our bridges are in metric. That's where it's a little confusing. Up here in Canada, our overpasses are all shown in metric, but when we book a ferry are in feet.” - Joe

3. Weather needs to be taken into consideration. A few users mentioned this, and it was clear that they each have their own preferences.

“For driving, I like miles per hour or kilometers per hour. For temperature, though, I prefer staying with Fahrenheit. That's what I'm used to.” - Rick

Post analysis: Designing + Socializing research

Ideation Workshop with Stakeholders

I set a meeting with the Stakeholders to review the research findings and set actionable next steps. After the meeting, I reviewed the notes and created an 'Action Items' section with our takeaways which was immensely helpful while designing.


I collaborated with another Product Designer on my team to create the designs based on our findings. It took us just a few hours because we had all of the answers! Here is the final design and the changes we made based on our research.

Some users expressed interest in automatic changes to the systems as they cross the border, as is common with new cars and some other navigation apps. Looking at the long term vision, because our developers didn't have the capacity at the moment to implement this, we created a design for this functionality for the Distance and Speed measurements which we felt were the most relevant for this use case.

Socializing the Results

We have a very passionate support team and it was important for them to understand why certain product decisions were made. Once we had the finalized designs, I created a condensed slide deck with a detailed view of the new designs and accompanying support from the research. This helped others in the company understand our design process, and importantly to feel ("in the know.")


At times I felt like Charlie from that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia meme trying to understand the idiosyncrasies of the Metric and Imperial systems and my friends begged me to stop talking about it, but overall, I really enjoyed this project. I was given the time and space to be able to work on this project from beginning to end, and because I had done a few research projects at RV LIFE prior, I had a better understanding of how to engage with stakeholders and how to socialize research results and design decisions with the rest of the company, which was very important in gaining support for research in general. It was also a fantastic feeling once I got into Figma to work on the new designs and I had a clear understanding of how the settings should work and look, designing was *chef's kiss.*