UMBC Transit project was a part of the class- Human Centered Design, 2019 under Dr. Anita Komlodi at the University of Maryland BC. A team of a total of 2 designers was working together on UMBC transit’s web applications to identify user’s problems led by the UX research process.

We were instructed to follow all the possible UX practises in order to master the interaction with real users. The overall project duration was 5 months.

transit website

The University of Maryland Baltimore County has its own transit service which is known as UMBC Transit also affiliated by Maryland Transit Administration(MTA). We chose it as our annual project mainly because we were the user and felt it needs improvement in the overall product User Experience. We decided to perform the following UX practices and divided it into four phases:

transit project process

Based on our own experience as a student using transit web applications and talking with fellow students, we noted down major drawbacks that need to be addressed for the research and more user inputs.

transit brainstorming
Competitive Analysis

The first study we did was based on the list of transportation services provided by university-owned transit in the united states. We chose four websites and analyze them for the overall user experience and to find common pain points by highlighting the most relevant features similar to our website.

transit comp. analysis
Qualitative Interviews

In order to collect real user data, we followed a semi-structured interview process with two students where one was an active user and another one was a novice user. We also interview the transit manager as our main stakeholder of the website. The interview environment was a natural field setting of the user.

transit inquiry process

transit user1 transit user2 transit user3

Then we came up with these 2 personas to serve as a cumulative representation of all the common user needs, goals, tasks, pain points that we derived from the Stakeholder interviews, user interviews, and contextual inquiry.

transit persona
transit persona
Task Analysis

Based on insights we found that checking the bus schedule is the most frequent task performed by all types of users so we did a task analysis of how to check a specific bus schedule. For different scenarios, we also defined the path to achieve goals as plans.

Heuristic Evaluation

Now to focus on most specific problems with high severity we quickly followed Heuristics principles of usability to find out good & bad aspects of the website that needed improvement.

transit Heuristic
transit Heuristic
Participatory Design

To get more closer to the user’s ideas, we followed a participatory design where we invited two users as our design collaborators to help use guiding what can we do change in the existing interface to make it better and usable. From a previous study, we found two most important problems that require less cost and time in order to make the user experience better and decided to work on that.

Problem 1: HomePage navigation visibility(HE-06)
The task was to design home page navigation in such a way that it is clearly noticeable and easily accessible.

Transit Participatory Design

Problem 2: Excessive details above route table(HE-04)
The second activity was to redesign the data above the route table that helps users to choose the right schedule for the bus without spending much time.

Transit Participatory Design
High Fidelity Prototypes

After previous exercise results, we finalize to convert user sketch designs into high fidelity prototypes for usability research. For both problems, we designed each variation in Adobe Photoshop.

A/B Testing

To narrow down the best solution we needed criteria with actual results. A/B testing with two users with a different set of prototypes linked as a clickable system was used and think aloud technique was performed to measure loopholes. Below are the results of both users and their inputs:

Transit A/B testing

Transit A/B testing

From the above quantitative results, we chose to move further prototype-3 for the first problem and prototype-2 for the second problem as our main priority.

Usability Testing

Transit usability testing

We used Tobii eye-tracking software for analyzing how impactful the changes are in the prototypes. The study was conducted in the user study lab with time-based tasks given to two different users. Below are the eye-tracking results for both prototypes which clearly show the improvement of the user’s task procedure technique.

Project Learnings

  1. Keep users first
    Although I and other designer both were active users of the transit website, we didn’t let ourselves decide the end results, we followed the qualitative and quantitative data gathered from the actual users.
  2. Transition matters in interaction
    It is important to explain to users that we are evaluating the system not them. Most of the time due to a lack of understandings people don’t open up what they are actually feeling.
  3. Cost Factor
    Summarizing the list of problems needs proper severity levels to proceed further. The most frequently encountered problem by users with the least improvement cost is prioritized always.