Secondary research, User interviews, User tests, Brainstorming sessions, Affinity mapping, Paper prototyping, Business model creation.
Problem and Objective
My team and I started this project analyzing a common bug that people face every day on public transportation: handrails are germy and dirty.
This bug came up after a class discussion where we realized that everyone felt uncomfortable on public transports and that this problem is frequent in many cities.
The goal is to figure out the main pain point and find a solution to create an enjoyable environment where people feel at ease.
I approached the problem employing a thorough methodology and going through four specific phases: Research, Define, Design, Test.
"When it's everybody's problem, it's nobody's problem"
Doing secondary research and reading articles of people worried about their health while they are on public transports we generated an assumption that germs and dirtiness affected riders’ physical well being.
Through a total of 12 user interviews of 40 minutes each one (4 interviews conducted by every team member) with international and local regular riders who take different transport options at least three times a week, we found out that the problem was deeper.
People aren’t worried about germs dangerousness, but they perceive public transportation as unclean because of unpleasant sights, smells, and sounds, feeling unsafe and stressed, and not being encouraged to have respect for that space.
This phase completed with a brainstorming session and an affinity map as a result.
Shift of understanding
Through our research we learned that:
- Senses are deeply connected to real and perceived cleanliness
“Having a person’s armpit in your face feels unclean”
- Riders are not encouraged to have respect for the public transit service
“I often think about the dirtiness of public transport but there’s nothing I can do about it”
- People feel public transportation companies don’t care about them
“It feels like Bart doesn’t care, so why should its riders?”
We wrote 10 How Might We questions individually and coordinating with my group we identified the 4 most intriguing:
- How might we make each ride an exciting adventure?
- How might we create a more positive experience using the 5 senses?
- How might we use public transportation as a tool of inclusion?
- How might we encourage the community to feel a shared sense of responsibility through personal interactions to maintain public transportation?
Eventually, we came up with a final How Might We question.
How might we make public transport feel like a destination?
My team and I ideated three main ideas that could entertain people and make their ride better: a multi-sense journey, live music performances, and a drawing app.
The multi-sense idea consists of having different tools that stimulate the 5 senses and create a peaceful journey for the riders.
The live music performance proposal is based on entertaining riders with live performances both inside the public transits and at the stations.
The drawing app idea is based on entertaining riders with a drawing app connected to screens or projectors placed inside the transports.
We made low-fidelity prototypes for each idea.
Sketching the drawing app prototype
Multi-sense journey prototype: a tool
to wear that stimulates all the 5 senses
Live music low-fidelity prototype: some sketches that describe all the steps before getting to the train or bus and listening to live music.
After making low-fidelity prototypes we conducted 21 user tests at a Bart station in San Francisco.
Many people would look at others’ drawings without participating since they feel uncomfortable to show their drawing skills.
Everyone has different sense tastes, it is difficult to create a pleasant and relaxing experience for every rider.
Live music performances
Many riders prefer staying on their own and listening to music with their headphones.
We decided to move forward with the drawing app because:
- It’s the most concrete idea
- It surprises and makes riders enthusiastic
- Riders can participate to create a pleasant environment
Final paper prototype
We created a paper prototype of the drawing app that would connect mobiles with screens or projectors inside local public transport service, such as Bart and Muni, and eventually we conducted a final usability test.
The first three screens show the notification that the user receives to open the app and how to select both the car train/bus number and the screen/projector to share the drawing.
The other three screens show how to draw and sketch using drawing tools, colors, and stickers.
Final user test
We interviewed 12 participants (4 people per team member) who are regular riders (3 times a week) and irregular riders (1 time a month).
Everybody owns a smartphone and uses apps.
The test was conducted in the Bay Area.
After the tests, we conducted another brainstorming session and made an affinity map.
We validated that we needed to narrow the audience down to children and young people since they appreciated the idea and would have loved to download and use the app, while most adults enjoyed the proposal of being entertained by sketches and drawings to watch on the screens/projectors only, without utilizing the app.
For this reason, we decided to address the app to children and young people and provide tools to draw, background pictures, and famous artists' pieces.
This phase completed with the business model, thinking about collaborating with Bay Area children’s museums, education institutes, and public transportation companies.
Meeting goals and needs
Children learn, increase their creativity, and have fun, parents are eased and happy, and riders spend their time in a pleasant environment, looking at children’s drawings and being inspired by them.
All the interviews helped me to look at the problem from a different perspective.
I learned how to build empathy with my interviewers, overcoming the challenge to be a good listener, even though this includes silent uncomfortable moments.
Furthermore, this experience taught me how to collaborate with a team and plan each design thinking step carefully.
I propose to continue iterating the project and conduct other usability studies.