Product Designer

Make Ithaca's public transit system simpler and more reliable

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Team

Cornell App Dev

Project Brief

Design a mobile experience for Cornell students and residents of Tompkins County to easily navigate the Ithaca community using TCAT bus system. This application is primarily focused on the needs of Cornell students, but should be applicable to the entire Ithaca community.

Problem

As a student in Ithaca, the bus is the main mode of transportation. Often, I want to confidently and punctually reach their destinations, but cannot because the bus system is confusing and its information is unreliable.

 

Initial Research Findings

We identified the following pain points from the Cornell Community—

  1. People feel uncertain about whether they are in the right place while waiting at the stops since they are not clearly marked and buses are often late.
  2. People often are unaware that there are multiple routes from the same or nearby stops that will get them to their destination
  3. People most often search for bus routes when they need them immediately, rather than for the future
 Initial TCAT App   The Trip planner feature presents route options in writing, making them difficult to compare.The Hyperlinked stops or locations pull up PDF maps or large PDF timetables, which are hard to read, navigate, or interact with on mobile devices. 

Initial TCAT App 

The Trip planner feature presents route options in writing, making them difficult to compare.The Hyperlinked stops or locations pull up PDF maps or large PDF timetables, which are hard to read, navigate, or interact with on mobile devices. 

 

What I did...

I conducted user research, market research, and user testing sessions to validate assumptions made in earlier phases and gathered data to inform future design decisions.

I redesigned the UX for the Route Options feature, which shows users all the possible routes for getting from their desired point A to point B.

I also designed for edge cases handling and unified the application style guide for future design and development. 

 
 
 
 
 

Some Option Card Explorations

 
 

Style Guide 

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Challenges

As we conducted user testing sessions, we discovered that different users have very different expectations and mental models for how the transit system operates. For example, some users rely heavily on route number while others rely heavily on the time a bus departs. This makes prioritizing data a lot more challenging. 

In order to better understand user journey and behaviors in context of our initial design, we set up five scenarios and invited 10 participants to our testing session:

  • Scenario 1: How do you get to Chipotle?
  • Scenario 2: What’s the last bus you took? Could you try and find the same one?
  • Scenario 3: Live tracking
  • Scenario 4: Could you find a bus from Collegetown Schwartz to the intersection of Barton and Thurston?
  • Scenario 5: You have to go the airport tomorrow at 5pm. Can you find a bus to there from where you live?

Next Steps

After our testing sessions, we proposed the following next steps for our next version. 

  • Homepage
    • Is Cornell destinations worth keeping?
    • Explore changes for the search bar
    • Explore ways of organizing the all stops list
  • Route Results
    • Explore ways of switching back to ‘Leave now’
    • Explore making journey times clearer
  • Map Page
    • Explore map glyphs and general map clarity
    • Explore ways to give users feedback (note: new bus icon on the map now animates)
  • General
    • Explore MVP ways of showing delays
    • ~bonus~ Explore ways of visually comparing bus routes/ bus stops