Myki — I have a solution

Okay, maybe not a final solution — but I think I’m onto something here…

Thirteen weeks ago I was introduced with “The Myki Brief” a somewhat daunting but very engaging task that would occupy my time for the foreseeable future — I was assigned to fix Myki (Well, not ultimately fix it, but at least test a prototype!).

For those unaware, Myki is a reloadable contactless smartcard used for public transport within Victoria. It was introduced and rolled out throughout the state in 2009 and became the only ticketing method for metropolitan bus, train and tram services in 2012.

Similar to other contactless cards around Australia and other countries, commuters will add money to their Myki and pay for their travel by validating it on a reader via “touching-on” and off — sounds simple right? Well as it turns out, there are a lot of people that have a problem with Myki and I was here to help.


Research

Like with any major brief, I began the project with several rounds of research. Initially, I targeted three main user bases of the Myki system to gather an understanding of what they think of Myki.

Assumptions
To begin, I dedicated some time to write a total of five assumptions relating to the Myki system. These assumptions were issues, facts or problems that could be improved or required solutions in order to enhance the user experience. The assumptions I wrote were the following:

  1. Commuters are discouraged to pay online due to long processing times of at least 24 hours.
  2. The Myki system makes traveling even harder for tourists due to the lack of temporary/visitor cards
  3. Travellers are unaware that top up amounts can be specific to fare costs
  4. It’s difficult for the commuter to check their current balance while traveling unless they specifically use top up machines or outdated readers
  5. The latest version of Myki cards are hard to distinguish between card types as they all have the same visual design.

Once I completed writing the assumptions, I needed to identify what kind of research method would be the most appropriate in order to gather the public’s opinion on them.

After researching some researching methods (ha!) I decided that the most effective way of communicating with the public and obtaining the information I needed would be through a series of surveys and contextual inquiries.

Research Plan
By using surveys and contextual inquires, my plan to obtain the publics experience with the Myki system is to approach people in areas within close proximity to public transport.

Beginning at Flinders Street Station, I will speak to commuters and have them fill out a survey based on their answers. In order to find tourists, I plan on visiting popular hot spots such as Federation Square where I will ask them other questions about their experience with Myki.

Lastly, a tram stop is located in front of the State Library which is also typically littered with many students sitting around. Therefore, I will focus on that area to conduct the remaining inquiries and surveys.

Conducting the Research
A total of three surveys were created to cover each of the assumptions and would include both quantitive and qualitative data.

  • Tourists — How does a complete outsider respond to Myki in its current state without a preconceived notion?
  • Payment — There are several ways to top-up and pay with multiple payment options. How are people using and topping-up their Myki?
  • Visuals — Myki undergoing a redesign has left some commuters confused about their card type. How have people responded to these changes?

Survey Results
A total of nine commuters were interviewed on the day

The Tourists:
All tourists surveyed all had a moderate to very positive experience with Myki. They all acquired their Myki card in person and were not made aware of the Visitor Value Pack. Only one tourist commuter knew how and needed top-up their Myki during their visit, while the others haven’t needed to yet.

The Local Commuters:
Every commuter surveyed uses Myki money with only one of them using the auto top-up feature. Only two had noticed the Myki readers no longer display their current balance, and they all believe this was a wrong move. Each of them believe the cards should have a different design so they can easily be distinguished.

Some Other Results:

  • Zero commuters surveyed used the Myki Pass option
  • All commuters topped-up in person or at payment machines
  • Most commuters only topped-up when unable to touch-on
  • Most commuters would consider installing a transport app
  • Most commuters have mistakenly swapped their Myki as they look identical

Synthesis

With all of the initial research complete, it was time to compile the data and compare with my peers on their findings too.

Affinity Mapping
As a group, my peers and I took part in a silent activity in which we used the information and results gathered from the user surveys we conducted earlier. This information was used to write on post-it notes all of the statistics, issues and confusion caused by the Myki system.

Affinity Map: Pre Categorisation

Once several foam boards were covered with post-it notes, the silence was over and we worked together to read over all of the data that culminated from the user surveys and we categorised them. These categories were broken down into major groups such as “Machinery” and then broken down further into subgroups like “Machine Performance”, “Machine Accessibility” and “Machine Usability” for example.

Affinity Mapping Results
This exercise was vital as many of us used the research to gather different information. For instance, some focused heavily on the act of acquiring concession cards, while others only surveyed about topping up. This allowed me to get an even more in depth look into what the public finds challenging about the Myki system. Both qualitative and quantitative data were identified through the many categories.


Personas

After the Affinity Mapping process was completed, I used all of the data and information gathered from the public to create three personas. These personas will be used as a basis of typical users of the Myki system and will inform the decisions I will need to make when creating my final solution to improving the system.

Persona One: Exchange student temporarily living in Melbourne
Persona Two: Full-Time student traveling long distance
Persona Three: Accountant that’s always on the move

Journey Map

Once the personas were created, I designed a journey map that would follow a typical commuter’s day illustrating each of their interactions and pain points with Myki. The journey map would also be used to outline any opportunities for improvement.

The journey I decided to illustrate was one particularly bad day that went as follows: The commuter planned to top up their Myki before leaving to work but were unsuccessful due to long processing times. At the train station they were forced to top up at a slow machine which ultimately results in them missing the train and being late for work.

The ten stages outlined in the journey map are:

  1. Looks up Myki balance on their desktop computer
  2. Attempts to top up but can’t due to 24 hour payment processing
  3. Drives to work without topping up believing they have enough
  4. Tries to touch on but can’t due to insufficient funds
  5. Forced to wait in line at the top up machine
  6. When topping up the machine lags and takes a long time to process payment
  7. Successfully touches on the Myki reader
  8. Misses their scheduled train and the following one is delayed
  9. Finally catches the delayed train
  10. Arrives at work late

Ideation

Now that all of the research and planning was complete it was time to begin the brainstorming and designing stages of my Myki solution.

It was clear right away once the research was finalised that the solution for the majority of Myki’s problems would be a mobile application.

YES! An app really is the answer to our problems!

Brainstorm
To begin the brainstorming process, I accumulated all of the data from the the research and planning to devise the major features that needed to be included into the solution. The key features that were to be included were:

  • Instant top-up
  • Balance checker
  • Journey planner
  • Timetable
  • Virtual Myki (Alternative method — Use NFC technology in compatible phones to touch-on/off with)
  • Concession ID
  • Delay notifications
  • Favourite lines/routes/destinations

Wireframes

Initial wireframe sketches for the Home Screen (Left), Top-Up (Middle) and Cards Screen (Right)

Prototype

Once the entirety of the app was wireframed and planned out, I created each screen (some with multiple states) in Illustrator ready for implementation into prototyping software.

Overall User Flow Broken Into Features/Functions Available

With all of the screens completed, I implemented them into the prototyping software InVision to make my solution interactive and testable.


User Testing

Planning for the user tests were similar to previous ux projects in the past. I identified user groups that were comparable to a typical commuter like the ones I initially surveyed. A script, three scenarios and pre/post questionnaires were written also.

The scenarios outlined for the user tests were the following:

  • Top up $10 using your preferred method
  • Assume you are at a Myki reader wanting to catch a train. Touch-On by using the virtual Myki card.
  • Plan a journey from Flinders Street station to Sandown Park.

The Pre-Questionnaire featured questions relating the users’ experience with public transport, Myki and mobile applications. The Post-Questionnaire included questions regarding the usability of the app, if the features and functions made sense or could be improved and if the app improved the overall experience with Myki.

Myki App Demonstration

A short video demonstrating some features in my prototype

User Test Results
Overall, I received very positive feedback from each of the users. The only main criticism that was presented was to remove the search button at the top right of the screen and replace it with a “Go to home” button.


Conclusion

To summarise, I believe the prototype I have created successfully addresses all of the issues and problems most commuters face with the current Myki system by creating a mobile application that can be used for all Myki needs. Through this app commuters can top-up with a variety of methods, plan their journey, receive updates via notifications for their favourite lines and finally touch-on and off with the virtual Myki card.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Here’s to a real–life solution for Myki to be developed in the near future!