Bus Stop Sign in Taipei

Ways of people interact with the bus stop sign in Taipei.

Photo source: http://news.ltn.com.tw/news/life/paper/415942

The bus stop sign is somewhat fancy in Taipei. Based on real-time bus GPS data, it tells you the estimated arrival times, and the most importantly, you can browse the route map to make sure it’s the right bus you’re taking. Where’s the route map? Well, it’s the cylinder thing attached to the pole with tiny texts on it.

When these signs first came out, I saw many interesting ways of how people were interacting with them. Some people went around to follow the route map while others knew the map could be turned by hand. I thought the idea of attaching the route map to the bus stop sign was thoughtful and brilliant, and the cylinder design was easy enough to understand that it could be turned. It actually did a good job to achieve Visceral, the first level of Don Norman’s three levels of design. But there’re still quite a lot of people complained about it. So, what’s the real problem? I would say, maybe the designer didn’t take a bus everyday, or the design was just not tested enough.

In Taipei, you can see the people who take buses are students, elders and commuters who are always in rush, but the texts of the route map might be too small and cause the accessibility problem. Another problem is that the signs are so close to the roads, and they’re often dusted and dirty. People wouldn’t want to touch them with their hands. I think the design is failed at the Behavioral level.

In the end, I feel it’s a good start to revamp the bus stop sign that we see everyday. With technology today, it’s a lot more exciting than just telling you where to wait for a bus. I hope this new design could be iterated based on people’s feedback, and becomes more friendly. Then, it would achieve the Reflective level of emotional design that gives people an impression of innovation and usefulness.

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