UX Case Study: City Mobility

Living in a big city with a dense population is connected to high mobility. The number of activities in one day makes people have to travel from one point to another using transport, either their own vehicle or public transportation. In this case, I will focus on explaining public transport in the capital city of France and the suburb area, and how me and my team mates solve the wicked problem.

Photo credit: @cchau

Despite the worldwide success of the automobile, there are big differences between mobility and modes of regulation implemented in the regions developed in the world. Indeed, most of the cities of the planet have grown faster than the public transport system which causes an imbalance between the city center and suburbs.

For example, Europe public transportation is better than the United State. In LA, 24% of downtown residents have easy access to public transportation and the rate drops to 11% in the suburbs. In Asia, the percentages are lower than in Europe but the population is much larger. This reflection aims to increase the satisfaction of mobility needs and the quality of life in the city.

The wicked problem:

How might we organize a variety of people navigating the streets to provide a more efficient and cleaner city?

First of all, our goal is to understand how young professionals moves around the big cities and how they feel about it.

We used this methodology to solve the problem and reach the goal:

Emphatize

We asked these questions for the interview with 8 users:

  1. What transport do they use around the city?
  2. What they think about the way they commute?
  3. How do they feel while commuting?

We could get the insights from the users:

  • 6 out of 8 use the public transport to commute daily, because they think it’s the most efficient way.
  • 3 out of 8 own a car, but they rarely use it to go to the city center. They think that finding a parking slot in the city center is annoying.
  • They give a score 7/10 to the average grade to the whole commuting in a public transportation. They could say that they are quite privileged.

Overall, we can resume what they think about public transportation:

  • Public transport is accessible to all
  • There is a wide choice of transport
  • Public transport is affordable
  • Public transport is fast

The other way, we need to find their real pain points and gain points:

➖ Pain points: Public transportation is crowded, lack of safety, dirty, stinky and dangerous.

➕ Gain points: They enjoy the train ride because they could find their moment of peace.

Define

We create our persona to define better our user.

Justine is a marketing and community manager for a rather big company in Paris. She commutes to work everyday and has to take multiple types of transports when traveling around the dense city. She enjoys taking public transport when she can travel comfortably and get lost in her own thoughts. She then mostly daydreams about her upcoming travels or what she most likely will do on the week-end. When incidents occur, Justine doesn’t like to be kept into the blue and really expects that real-time information is communicated to her to understand what is going on.

User Journey

A customer journey map is a visualization of the process that a person goes through in order to accomplish a goal.

Justine is today facing an issue. Justine is very determined to be in a good mood when she arrives at work, but her issue is that she often travels within crowds. Justine knows that rush hours are synonym to big crowds which are quite overwhelming for her, but she doesn’t really know how to avoid them at all times. Her wish would really be to avoid those and travel comfortably.

So her everyday commute is divided into 5 big stages : going to the bus, the bus ride, the switch between the transports, the RER and the walk to her office.

During this journey Justine feels different emotions depending on what she does. The major pain points are experienced by her when she has to stand in the bus, and the other day that the experience was really below zero because she was crammed in bus, stuck under the armpit of someone. On top of that everyone is mad because they are late and she really doesn’t like that because she sponges up the bad vibes around her. Another paint point is when she tries to get into the RER, because people don’t respect other passengers and this scares her and makes her really uncomfortable. The last pain point is when she has to walk through the crowds and stand in line to exit the station.

We choose to go with the second pain point which result in the following problem statement.

Problem statement

Justine, the daydreaming commuter, needs a way to make her journey more comfortable and pleasant because traveling in crowds drains her energy, which affects her mood negatively.

We will know that we reached our goal if Justine’s perceptions of her daily commuting experience improves.

But how can we solve Justine’s problem?

Ideate

Our idea is to create the indicator lights on the security gate entry, red light indicates full seats and green light indicates available seats, also the information of number available seats on the screen to allow the users find their personal space right away, and make sure that users could have the good and peaceful atmosphere with a good smell and lighting.

The user flow.
The idea’s illustration.
What Justine needs while commuting.

Lesson learned

Tackling a complex problem means we should be able to think wide open. We need to prioritize what we should tackle first. In this case we learned how to link different elements and experiences expressed by users, how we can find the design opportunities were found during high and low points of the user journey and the design thinking process pushes the project to evolve from general to very specific informatic (funnel system).

Next steps…

We could improve to communicate real-time information on different travel apps concerning crowd streams and connect with users on social media platforms in order to support them for their itinerary.

Thanks for reading my story!

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