Re-Designing wayfinding on TTC buses in a 4 day design sprint

Conceptual design
Project Overview
During the summer of 2020, I decided to re-design the TTC's wayfinding experience on buses to practice and develop my design skills. The TTC installed LCD screens to replace their dot-matrix displays in 2018. The purpose of these displays were to notify the rider of the upcoming stop, and if a stop has been requested. This was an excellent idea by the TTC, as it has potential to improve the wayfinding for its customers while on the bus.
My Contributions
Usability audit, User research, Requirements gathering, Personas, Wireframes, Prototypes
Outcome
As passionate as I was to this topic, at the end of the day, it's meant to service much more than just me. Getting the insight from prospective users/passengers allowed me to understand what common issues are currently in place with how they use buses, and what could be done better. People really are the most valuable resource.

Project Summary

On these new TTC Screens (pictured below), there was a lot of screen real estate that could be taken advantage of on the current LCD Screens. Seeing an opportunity to freely ideate my own innovative solution, this led me to conduct a 4 day design sprint to explore this problem and a potential use of this space.

Problem

How can we provide riders with the best wayfinding experience on public transit buses?

Understanding the issue

Before I started my research, I decided to highlight what came to mind when thinking about transit to establish a baseline of understanding. By creating this mind map, I was able to build on the ideas I currently had while learning and adding on new concepts that I felt were necessary to include.

PACT Analysis

To reflect on the kind of users I would interview and attempt to understand them better, I conducted a PACT analysis, highlighting people, activities, content, and technologies.

(P)eople

People who don’t have cellular data won’t have access to directions easily

People who are new to the city

People who aren’t from Toronto

(A)ctivities

The main activity this device will deliver is to direct passengers to their destination and notify them if a stop is requested

(C)ontent

The device will be viewed by every passenger on the bus in both the front and the back

When the user requests a stop it will be displayed on the device for all passengers to see

(T)echnology

Output: LCD Screen w/speakers

Screen Size: 27 inches

Communication: Occurs during the passengers ride

Content: Upcoming stop, stop requested

User interviews

I conducted brief interviews to understand how people currently use the TTC. I asked them about their experience from before they get on the bus to after they get off and what they feel is missing or could be improved. Below are some key quotes from my interviews.

“Because I don't have data, I will usually prepare ahead and attempt to memorize where the stop is, as well as the stop prior to, so I know where to get off in advance.”

“When I’m on my way to work, I stare at the LCD screen so I don’t miss my stop.”

“A real-time GPS or Map on the main screen would be helpful as it can provide an idea of where you are without the need of opening your phone”

Persona

After reviewing the answers I received from my user interviews, I combined the collective information and ideas into one persona to connect with for my design solution.

MoSCoW Method

To determine the scope of my project, I drafted a MoSCow list to identify what were the essential components this project needed to have to be considered successful.

Must have

Information on the next stop

Information that a stop has been requested

Displaying multiple pieces of information at the same time

Should have

Information on the upcoming stop beyond the next stop

Information on service delays on the route

Identifying bus routes you pass

Could have

Mobile app fare integration to send you GPS data to your phone for your current route

Information on service delays on the bus routes you pass

Won't have

Information regarding subways and LRT’s

Design challenge

To create a passenger information screen that effectively communicates the TTC bus service.

Mapping the riders journey

With the idea racing around in my head, I wanted nothing more to go and sketch out potential ideas for the interface. Before I did that, I wanted to identify and understand the typical flow of a passenger using public transit buses. Below is a journey map of the experience.

Sketching the interface

My first step in the design was to brainstorm possible layouts for the new screen by sketching them on a pen and paper. I borrowed elements from existing transit wayfinding solutions, from the subways, to GO Buses, to the GO Train service maps.

Mid-fidelity prototypes

For my mid-fidelity prototypes, I wanted to highlight the functionality of the screen’s features by highlighting each element on the display.

To demonstrate the feature of showing upcoming stops beyond the immediate one, I designed a service map that would update during the buses journey.

One style drew elements from the existing screen and kept the Next Stop display to notify the passenger of the immediate upcoming stop.

Service delays were reserved to the right side of the screen, updating during the journey to reflect the upcoming stops.

Requesting a stop has now become its own partition on the screen rather than utilizing the same space as the Next Stop display, like the current TTC screens do.

Focus group

To get a grasp on the efficacy of these new screens, I sent the prototypes to a few participants willing to help me test them out. They gave me essential feedback that helped me narrow down my design decisions to create a prototype that would serve the passengers of the bus better. Below are a few quotes from my participants:

"I think it's really important to keep it minimal, to be seen even from the end of the bus."

"I feel the second one has way too much information on it.

You should consider removing the delays notifications, it feels hard to read and you’re squishing too much"

“Yeah I like the TTC logo being static, but then the service delays become too small.”

Revisions

The biggest issue that was raised in my focus group was that the Service Delays section was taking up too much space on the screen and was using a font that was too small to be read from varying distances on the bus. To eliminate that issue, as well as coming to the realization that there are times where delays aren’t present, I decided to incorporate the service delays into the same section as the Welcome Message.

In the event of a service delay, the section will alternate between showing the logo and showing the upcoming service delays.

Stylistic inspiration

To get an idea of the visual style I wanted to execute in the high-fidelity prototype, I took a look at how other designers showed wayfinding, both digitally and physically. Below is a few of the images that I found on Behance that helped me pick a visual direction.

High-Fidelity prototype

For my final prototype, I went back to my focus group results which mentioned an overload of information. I tried to reduce as much visual clutter as possible by retaining the most key elements on the screen. This led to me to contain the Stop Request feature in the Next Stop bar, making it be illuminated red whenever a stop is requested.

Key takeaways

As passionate as I was to this topic, at the end of the day, it's meant to service much more than just me. Getting the insight from prospective users/passengers allowed me to understand what common issues are currently in place with how they use buses, and what could be done better.

People really are the most valuable resource.