The idea and introduction of the App is heaven sent, but the execution is extremely flawed in almost every step.
With such a fast-paced life, people don’t have the time to stand in queues for tickets, neither do they have time to spend more than a minute to book a ticket on an App.
- Slow and difficult usability.
- The features are inadequate and a few are missing.
- Old and outdated visual design.
Shedding light on the issues mentioned above, a redesign of the entire in-app experience was required. Three main goals were defined:
- Improve the UX design, creating a smoother user flow between the core functions of the application like ticket booking and payment interface.
- Implement additional features that allow innovation, ease the user experience and boost the sales of tickets.
- Completely redesign and define a new visual appearance of the interface to keep it at par with the modern day smartphone application.
For those of you who don’t know, the definition of usability in UX is; ‘Usability refers to the ease of access and/or use of a product or website.’ It is a sub-discipline of user experience design.
And I am not just talking about usability of an app, it could be anything, a bag or a bottle or even a hand fan. Usability is about how well a design solution performs in terms of being intuitive, easy to use, functional and ergonomic, such as a bag is being held by a woman on her forearms, or a bottle having a handle to hold it or a hand fan collapsing into a small, folded circle.
I divided this project into 5 phases:
- Initial research — Identifying users, their pain points, mapping their mental model, research analysis.
- App features and user experience — Exploring the app to better the experience, adding new features, redefining the user flow and understanding business needs.
- Sketching and Wireframes — Brainstorming to reach a solution.
- Visual design, UI design — Making the app look good too!
- Takeaways — Going beyond the redesign.
1. Initial research:
Since this isn’t an official project, I don’t have access to UTS’s data or their design team, I had to approach user research differently to figure out the users and their problems with the current App. Luckily, there were many highly descriptive public review available on both Play store and App Store.
In general, there were a lot of single star ratings. The comments left on the app proved to an extremely valuable source feedback of the App. The feedback answered two questions clearly.
Question 1. What are people using the App for?
After analyzing the data, I came to the conclusion that the users primarily use the app to:
- Book and Pay for tickets (both daily and monthly)
- Show ticket when needed.
Ouch! Just ouch!
Some of the feedbacks were downright distasteful and insulting, my heartfelt sympathy towards the technical team. But on the positive side, a lot of the feedbacks had really specific issues pointed out.
I distilled around 35 odd reviews and cumulated the biggest issues from them. I then went ahead and mapped the exact problem the users were facing and what exactly they were expecting.
Question 2. What issues frustrate the users?
As we can clearly see, a pattern of common complaints came up, including a lack of clear and intuitive UI, faulty payment processes, issues with booking within a certain radius around the platform, GPS tagging, etc.
Before we head into the App features and user experience, let’s first define the Users and the realistic scenarios that would play out.
2. App features and User Experience:
With the information gathered from the Feedback analysis, the pain points were very clear and further defining the target audience helped to understand the mental model of the user better.
To solve the first problem mentioned above, lets first have a look at the current user flow.
The issue with the current user flow is that it is extremely exhausting and confusing.
For starters, the user needs to tap 4 times, before reaching the actual booking page. Add that with a confusing navigation and you’ve got yourself a very frustrated user!
Based upon the analysis of the pain points and keeping usability principles in mind, we can change the user flow to perform something like this:
This flow is quick, intuitive, leaves a scent behind and fulfills all the principle tasks a user can perform, as directly and quickly as possible.
I further distilled a few major tasks users would need to perform at any given time, regardless of the urgency of that task.
- Book a daily paperless ticket
- Manually add source and drop platforms
- Select ‘route’
- Add card information
- Make Payments
- View Booking History
- View ticket
- Share ticket
- Renew Pass
- Request refund
- Contact customer care
- Add/edit personal information
Understanding business needs:
I couldn’t just design it according to a frustrated user, I had to keep in mind the business needs and the constraints that were laid forward. UTS app is an official Indian Railway App, created by CRIS (Centre for Railway Informations System) which implies that it is the only Indian Railway sponsored app that allows ticketing for suburban lines.
To get a rough idea, Mumbai Local trains ferry around 7.5Million commuters daily. That is just in the Mumbai area and UTS app is accessible in Chennai, Delhi, and Kolkata as well.
Regardless to say, a lot of revenue is ought to be generated by the Suburban railways combined. However, CRIS says it is pulling in a loss.
A majority of the commuters don’t buy tickets. Their reason? The queue is too long. Or running out of time. The others just don’t follow the law, because there is very, very little security in place.
So to tackle this, the introduction of the UTS app along with a few physical security measures in place, will skyrocket the revenue of the Indian Railways.
I am talking about ticket checking machines. Physical ticket checking machines and a stronghold of security at every entry and exit point of the railway stations.
Automated ticket checking setups need to be installed, for ticket validation and access control. Security personnel should be allocated at every setup to ensure minimizing of fraud.
The UTS app users could just scan their virtual tickets, and for those who wished, could buy tickets and scan them at the machines to enter the platform.
3. Sketching and wireframes
We’ve been through with the research and user analysis. Now it is time to keep all that in mind and sketch out the best possible ideas.
I digitized the sketches and created the lo-fi wireframe to define the visual form on the screen, presentation and arrangements of all the elements. From this, we can define the Visual design and create the high fidelity wireframes.
This project has provided a learning experience like none other. Our designing skills are major players when defining the way a product solves a problem or create a better user experience. Usually our clients provide us with a brief, but to work without one, allowed me to create an enhanced visual solution that the users needed.
A design, especially a mobile App, is a never ending process. It is constantly evolving and getting better as we understand our users better. Here is when usability testing is a treasure chest!
Along with that, the future scope of the ticketing experience is beyond what the current system allows.
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