Design Thinking for Citymapper
Iron Hack Prework assignment
As part of an Iron Hack assignment, students were asked to solve a problem centered around purchasing tickets for public transportation through a feature on Citymapper.
Citymapper is a public transit app and mapping service which displays transport options, usually with live timing, between any two locations in a supported city. It integrates data for all urban modes of transport, including walking, cycling and driving, in addition to public transport. It is free of charge to users, and is supported by a mobile app on devices such as mobile phones, and by an Internet website.
The following steps will take you through the process of Design Thinking (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test) and how it was applied to attempt to solve a problem.
Learn about the audience for whom you are designing, by observation and interview.
Although the assignment had already given a problem, I kept my interview questions open-ended for insights and to understand my audience’s pain.
With each interview, I began to tweak my questions. I started seeing which questions were more relevant and others that didn’t really go anywhere or would make the interviewees answer quickly/briefly. I noticed that the order of questions were very important so that the interview wasn’t manipulated or steered.
Having completed the interview, a couple of problems surfaced:
- Language barriers when in a different country (abroad)
- Lack of signage (abroad)
- Safety issues when using smartphones (local and abroad)
- Not always having wifi when traveling or no smartphone on hand (abroad)
- Difficulties found switching in between a subway and a bus (local and abroad)
- Trains or buses that take too long to arrive or break down (abroad and local)
- Not knowing what stop to get off when riding the bus (local)
Create a point of view that is based on user needs and insights.
The assignment had already given a problem that was centered in the difficulty of purchasing tickets. However, Citymapper has launched Citymapper Pass — a virtual and physical contactless payment card that is linked to your bank card. I thought that the problems of my interviewees were already solved with this 2019 feature so I tackled a different pain. Here are some questions that helped me to better define my problem.
- What problem are you solving?
Not knowing what stop to get off when riding the bus in São Paulo.
- Who is your audience?
People in São Paulo who are unfamiliar with the bus route (this includes people who don’t ride the bus frequently) and have smartphones.
- Who is your client’s competition?
Google maps, Moovit, map apps for the subway or bus routes, uber, cabify, 99 taxi.
- What’s the tone/feeling?
For adults, practical, easy, quick, clear, calm
Brainstorm and come up with as many creative solutions as possible.
São Paulo’s subway system is very good, but the bus isn’t as much. Even locals have a hard time when it’s not your usual stop. People who don’t usually take the bus are overwhelmed and feel like they’d get lost very easily and resort to cabs instead. On top of that, there is an added factor of safety. São Paulo is not a city in which someone should walk carelessly with their phone out. Having that in mind, here are some solutions that I’ve thought of:
- São Paulo’s stops don’t have names. Develop a naming/color system. Have totems with the stop names and color. No wifi would be needed.
- Notifications by geofencing so that whenever you’re near your stop, you’ll know to get off.
- Different kinds of vibrations on your phone for when it’s time to get off. It’s also safer so that you don’t have to pull out your phone.
- The buses could have a built in speaker like subways that announces bus arrivals. This would require a naming system.
- On the app, each stop could have an image where you can see what your surrounding looks like or what the nearby shops are. This isn’t too great if you have to be taking out your phone. Also if it’s your first time taking this route, it may cause stress to constantly make sure you’re on the right stop.
- Digital map in the bus that lights up showing your route. This is similar to the one on subway, but because the same bus can have different routes throughout the day, so a screen would be better. This is good for safety reasons and for those who don’t have a smartphone.
I filtered my options through what would work on the app since the assignment required a digital prototype. However, I did not want to limit myself because unexpected ideas can lead to different kinds of solutions.
Build a representation of one or more of your ideas to show others.
As I was prototyping and looking through the screens of the app, Citymapper asked if I’d like to receive notifications as I got closer and/or arrived at my bus stops. This seemed like it would solve the problem I was trying to tackle.
However, I noticed that they didn’t have a feature that showed what the bus stop looked like. As mentioned before, some areas of São Paulo can be dangerous. So I prototyped a new feature that would allow the user to click on different bus stops to view what they look like during the day time and night time in a 360º view. In case the user wants to change the stop, they can go back and select another stop. This is especially helpful for my audience since it would be their unusual route. This way they can plan and know when to get off their stop even if their internet connection isn’t setting off notifications to hop off.
Share your prototyped idea with your original user for feedback.
This part of the Design Thinking process was not required in the assignment.
Defining a problem and an audience is key to solving a problem. When given an assignment where anything is possible, my desire was to solve everything. Defining a Point of View was crucial to get to a solution and not get stuck.
The Design Thinking process isn’t necessarily linear. There might be a back and forth, new discoveries, miscalculation, etc. Keeping to the steps is important to understand exactly where you are in the process.