After a brief introduction to design thinking, Ironhack gave me an assignment that I had to tackle in order to qualify for their Bootcamp in Berlin. (skip to “My approach and experience” in case you already red the briefing).
Cittymapper is a public transit and mapping app that solves many problems of Urban Mobility by offering the quickest and cheapest public and private transport routes. Still, there is one pain point for many users: the different amount of public transport tickets the users have to purchase.
The process of buying these tickets can be very annoying (queues, vending machines that don’t work, etc.) and things like pricing or purchasing the correct ticket can become a real pain when you are abroad.
My task is to create a feature for this app that solves the pain of having to purchase different public transport tickets by different channels.
My approach and experience:
…involves developing a sense of empathy towards the people you are designing for, to gain insights into what they need, what they want, how they behave, feel, and think, and why they demonstrate such behaviors, feelings, and thoughts when interacting with products.
In order to choose the right people to interview and to gain more insights, I had to think about people who would face the problem. The ones I could think of were travelers or people that are on a lot of business trips. Commuters most likely own some sort of monthly pass or prepaid card.
To get a wide range of views, I went to the basement of the Internet to look for a tool that would help me to reach out to old friends that I met abroad — Facebook.
I then conducted interviews with people that have travel experience. Six individuals between 22–39 years. Three of them live abroad and three currently are in Berlin.
Surprisingly only two participants remembered having to purchase tickets by different channels. Cooperations between different channels like in Berlin seem to be common (+ Cittymapper is mainly used in metropoles). Regardless, one solution became obvious (you guessed it) — Mobile tickets. The respondents in Berlin use them frequently through the local p.t app (BVG) and think the purchasing process is pleasant. In addition, benefits such as saving time, being more comfortable, and protecting the environment were mentioned several times.
Additionally, another pain point revealed. The lack of mobile data when abroad or underground. Citymapper lets you save offline maps already but what happens if you need to validate a ticket on the way?
Side note — What’s interesting is that every city seems to have its own individual flaws. Busses without maps our announcements that leave you lost, dangerous routes, lack of information about tickets, etc.. I won’t prototype a solution for this one but I imagine Pop up notifications that inform foreigners about these little flaws before their trips would be beneficial.
synthesize your findings and define a problem statement from that empathy work, focusing on the user’s viewpoint.
I synthesized my findings and rephrased the challenges into “How might we” questions because as a newbie, acknowledged methods are boosting my confidence.
- How might we integrate a mobile ticket purchase system?
- How might we activate and use a digital ticket while lacking mobile data?
Use brainstorming techniques to generate a lot of ideas to solve the problem.
Because the people I interviewed really like the BVG App, I thought a competitor analysis at this point might work as a source of inspiration. It surely helped me to ideate the following:
- The purchase process needs to be visible and easy/quick to go through! Buying tickets should also be achievable in multiple ways, making it very easy for the user (and valuable for Cittymappers $$$). BUT! At the same time, it can’t mess with the user’s mental model! Otherwise, Ananas_014 is going to be mad, “ I love the Interface, never change it!” (Source: App Store Review — true story ;P).
- In case users aren’t provided with mobile data on a trip, they can buy a ticket prior and activate it at any given time.
Side Note — To make this idea work, Cittymapper needs to establish a partnership with the respective local transport service. I might be naive but I think this would be valuable for both parties. So let’s continue :-).
Important note! The offline activation probably has to come with individualized interfaces to make it impossible to create a copy, besides that I’m not sure if there is a way to hack the offline process.
So please! If you see something that I wasn’t aware of regarding the offline ticket or if you want to share your idea or thoughts with me to make this work, go ahead. I’d appreciate it :).
As someone that just recently entered the universe of user experience and is a little bit intimidated by all those new smart ass science sounding words, I must say that the design thinking process is quite calming. It shows that behind this foreign language there is a clear structure and once I can understand all those words and methods I think I’ll be fine.
What I also appreciate is that no matter how much you think you can come up with ideas by yourself, you will always have more thoughts to work with when listening to others.
Thanks for reading ❤