This is a Design Thinking exercise where the task is to redesign a route-planning app to solve a common problem: buying and handling a number of different tickets for a multi-staged trip.
UrbanGo is a public transit and mapping startup based in Silicon Valley. Their goal is to solve the problems of urban mobility by offering the quickest and cheapest public and private transport routes to their users.
Although the current product of UrbanGo already solves some of the main problems of the urban mobility, there is one pain point for many users: the different amount of public transport tickets the users have to purchase.
Public transport tickets come in paper or plastic cards. Very often buying different public transport tickets is necessary to go from point A to B. And the process of buying these tickets can be very annoying (queues, vending machines that don’t work, etc.).
Finally, things like pricing or purchasing the correct ticket can become a real pain when you are abroad.
To get a clearer picture of the problem and to find out first hand what the user experience is like, I conducted 5 interviews with people who use route-planning apps to prepare their trips. The users interviewed are 3 males and 2 females, aged 24–33.
All of them use Google Maps frequently, some even for recurring trips that they already know. They value the fact that the app presents the public transit system’s schedules and the most convenient route at the time.
Two users complained that it is sometimes difficult to make a connection in public transit, as some bus stops are difficult to find, and the directions for exiting large stations at the right place are not always precise enough. They also find that there is insufficient information regarding pricing and tickets, and whether or not certain public transport services are included in their monthly passes. For longer trips, all of them use additional services to look for the best option, especially when flying; common services used are Omio, Skyscanner and Kayak.
Keeping in mind the results of the user research and the objective of the exercise, I realized that my redesign should be focused on solving 2 main problems: issues with tickets and pricing, and navigating through public transit connections.
In order to solve the 2 problems that are the scope of this redesign, I came up with several ideas, but there are 3 that seemed the most viable and effective
- Map the inside of large stations and correctly place small bus stops on the map so that the users can find their way using their GPS without facing cumbersome problems like taking the wrong exit out of the station or walking in the wrong direction as they come out.
- Display which stations belong to which pricing area in the case of monthly passes, so that users have a clear understanding of where exactly they can travel without incurring additional costs.
- Be able to map long, complex routes finding the best prices and shortest travel times, allowing the user to set preferences such as allowed means of transport. Once the user is satisfied with a suggested route, the app offers a QR code ticket valid throughout the whole trip, payable in a single transaction
My key takeaway from this exercise is that sketches and prototypes are helpful even in the earliest stages of design, since they allow you to visualize what you’re working on, and to begin addressing problems as they come up, without having wasted too much time and resources on something more detailed.