myki-go: A look in to designing a new experience for Melbourne commuters

User testing the prototype for the myki-go mobile app

Introduction to the project

The current myki public transport system in Melbourne springs feelings of frustration and inefficiency to the minds of many Melbournians who are tasked with commuting to and from work, school or social occasions weekly. This project has charged me with undergoing in a user-focused development and design process to address the issues that are prevalent in the current myki card reader and Victorian public transport system.

This project will dictate that I first identify the ‘pain-points’ and clear problems with the experience of commuters and users of the current public transport system, take those issues, and think of innovative ways to address them and improve the overall user experience within the system. In essence this entire process is an exercise in in-depth research in to user needs and what can be improved upon in an existing system. This blog will outline some of the tools and processes I have used to arrive at my final solution.

Who is involved?

Experience and Digital Designer : Ben Kneebone ( me! )
I will be the one to spearhead the entire creative process. I will take the entire project through research and ideation to the final prototyping and presentation of the concept.

Creative Directors: Henry Zados, Suzanne Thomson
Henry and Suzanne have divided all of the tasks up in to separate deadlines over the thirteen week period. They will be the ones who will decide wether I am to move forward with my design process or revisit and refine my ideas further to suit the briefs objectives

Legal Considerations

The software required for this build will include Adobe brackets for the text editing, MAMP for locally hosting any website whilst in development. I will be using a Macbook pro 13” retina display.

In the concept and research stages I will be using paper and post-it notes for card sorts and identifying current issues to be worked on. For image editing and graphic production I will be using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. For prototyping purposes I will potentially be utilizing Axure 7.0.

The Research

Brainstorming and card sorting of research findings

The research stage began with a studio group brainstorm which identified both the target market groups which we look to cater our creative designs to, and as well as this the places we wish to focus on as touch points where users are utilising the current system the most and so experiencing the most frustration. After defining these two category groups it was time to then enter the public domain and gather data from our target demographics and use that to determine the best path forward in our creative process.

My findings were conducted using questionnaires individually catered to each of my target market groups. These target market groups consisted of: Students, Workers, Tourists and Seniors. Each survey consisted of ten questions that gathered both Qualitative data (personal opinion and feelings) and Quantitative data (numeric and measurable). The results of my findings in this stage outlined some clear shortcomings in the current public transport system and gave me great insight in to what I can do going forward to improve the users experience. Specifically and most obviously users generally hated the wait times that are associated with topping up at myki machines, as well as crowding around stations that directly effect users abilities to get to their destination on time. Other user concerns included that pricing and fares weren’t particularly clear, and so now communication and content becomes a clear focus from here. 
For myself being a hopeful web developer in the making I was jumping at the chance to produce a mobile app to deliver users from their frustrations and demonstrate my skill to my peer audience.

The User Journey

Synthesising and creating something that is specific to user needs is not just simply about research, but in fact about putting yourself in the shoes of a dissatisfied user, this way empathising with the frustrations that are experienced by these users. One great way of doing this is to develop personas around what could be considered a ‘typical user’. By mapping their frustrations, what makes them tick, their motivations and demographics a designer can then begin to develop deeper connections with who it is they are solving experience problems for. Once these typical users are mapped and understood, a very valuable communication tool to then convey exactly what it is you want to achieve in your creative process is known as a ‘user journey map’.

A user journey map is almost like a tailored narrative that now takes what you understand from user research and definition, and uses that data to communicate to an audience or peer group. Another great function of the user journey map is that it outlines opportunities for improvement, and can be used to justify design decisions that you make. The user journey map I created is a story about a student named “Sally”. Sally is a university student who studies at RMIT and travels from Mordialloc station to Melbourne Central station each day. Each numbered point on the map is what is known as a ‘touch point’, whereby Sally interacts with the current system that I am redesigning. The colour of each touch point is an indication of her frustration level, from green (good) to red (bad). Below is Sallys typical user journey map.

Sally’s user journey map

As can be seen from the above journey there are clear opportunities for improvement, and all ones that wont be overly difficult to solve. The next stage in the process is to take what I have learnt about the things that are lacking in the current system and potential improvement opportunities and apply that to the ideation of a practical solution.

The Prototype

The next few weeks of the process following research and user understanding became about the implementation of these findings and ideas in to what could be considered a viable commercial solution. This began first with design sprints and figuring out exactly what:

a) Needs to be included in my final design

b) Will not be included in my design

c) Should be included in my design

d) Could be included in my design

Wireframes / Low-fidelity prototype

When a more detailed understanding of how we were going to move forward and design our solutions, we then began the wire framing process. This was a very valuable stage in the creative process, whereby the wireframes not only served as early ideas on paper, but also as low fidelity prototypes. Amongst our studio group we used our wireframes to highlight problems in the designs, be it visual or functional. Out of this stage we were able to refine just how our solutions were to be properly implemented and once completed gave me the green light to now begin producing what I wanted to become my end product.

The Testing

Now comes the exciting part! I begin designing my high fidelity prototype for user testing. I use the Adobe Creative suite, predominantly Illustrator and Photoshop, to render my mobile app screens. Through using the online prototyping software ‘InVision’, and also downloading the mobile app counterpart I go on to produce the user flow and working prototype and am able to user test my app on a mobile device to gather much more realistic and valuable data. Below are some mock-ups I produced of some of my screen designs in context and to display some UI hierarchy:

Mock ups of the myki-go prototype

The Final

After testing and final tweaks, below is a video of the final prototype design I have developed. It goes for a couple of minutes and shows all of the functionality the application offers.

myki-go prototype screen capture

Features include:
Journey Tracker ( using location services )
Service Tracker ( tracking train location)
Multiple Touch on / off functions
Instant Top-up ( multiple payment options )
Digital concession card
Journey History / Fares displayed

The Evaluation

This entire process I can categorically say has been the most valuable lesson in design I have learnt to date. An in depth and comprehensive design process including thorough research, issue identification, opportunity definition, testing, refining and implementation are paramount to producing an end product that designers and users can be satisfied in using. It is satisfying to look back on the thirteen weeks and get a feeling of accomplishment and validation that only comes from a fully fleshed out idea that undoubtedly solves existing problems. Thanks for following my story! This blog post only goes in to small segments of detail from my entire design process, if you would like to know more about how I developed myki-go you can contact me at:

bkdesigns.melb@gmail.com

You can check out more of my work on my instagram @bkdesigns.melbourne

or at my Behance: 
www.behance.net/bkdesigns_melb

or my LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/ben-kneebone

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