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Mobile User Experience (UX) for Journey Planning Apps

Mobile User Experience (UX) for Journey Planning Apps

Mobile User Experience (UX) for Journey Planning Apps 1120 1120 Border Crossing UX

The latest versions of Transport for Edinburgh’s (TfE) journey planning apps are now available to download from the App Store and Google Play. If you’re an Edinburger or visiting Edinburgh, check out the latest version of the apps!

Shameless plugs aside we wanted to share what it’s been like to work with Lothian Buses in-house team on the mobile user experience of their latest journey planning apps.

Here’s a sneak peek at Transport for Edinburgh’s latest apps

The new Transport for Edinburgh app from Transport for Edinburgh on Vimeo.

How it all began

We were introduced to John McEvoy from Lothian Buses by Ben Walker from Firefly. John popped down to meet us and explained that he was currently developing two major updates to the existing Lothian Buses’ journey planning apps (iOS & Android). He was looking for a local user experience specialist to:

  • Test the apps from a mobile user experience perspective
  • Help his in-house team improve the apps prior to their public release.

Research and you will find

Within a few weeks we were kicking-off a discovery process that allowed us to gain a greater understanding of the key challenges facing the team. We started by analysing what people were doing with the existing version of both the iOS and Android apps. This led to some interesting findings that informed how we’d proceed with testing.

Lothian Buses Ratings and Reviews

We then got stuck into reviewing all the feedback (ratings and reviews) provided on both the App Store and Google Play. As researchers we know that unprompted feedback is more often than not stimulated by an extremely positive or negative experience. But it was still surprising to see the sheer volume of reviews that had absolutely nothing to do with the journey planning apps.

This meant we had to segment ratings and reviews we encountered to identify which reviews were relevant to the journey planning apps and which were not. This was incredibly valuable as it highlighted:

  • Both the iOS and Android apps were perceived as critical tools
  • People’s perception of an app is often driven by factors out with the apps or even Transport for Edinburgh’s control
  • Ratings were being skewed by negative feedback unrelated to the journey planning app
  • The majority of feedback provided was stimulated by one good or bad experience
  • There were some key tasks and scenarios that we’d need to focus on in testing
  • There were clear edge-cases that we needed to be mindful of whilst remembering these weren’t “top tasks”.

We then met up with Lothian Buses in-house team to re-define:

  • The scope and parameters of our mobile user experience evaluation
  • Key target audience segments
  • Proto-persona’s to be used for testing
  • The most important tasks to be tested
  • The scenarios in which these were to be conducted
  • Competitors to be benchmarked

Once all of the above was confirmed we finalised our testing plan for each of the mobile user experience audits required.

Test, test, test

For our first pass we kicked things off by investigating whether each of the proto-personas were able to complete the tasks required on each operating system in each of the scenarios identified. This involved numerous in-the-field tests and for a few days we swapped our desks for buses, stops and popular destinations throughout the city.

This real-world testing was critical to us discovering key opportunities and pain-points we wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. Following this we conducted an in-depth desk-based mobile user experience audit on both operating systems. Hence we could capture a number of additional recommendations.

Establishing a shared understanding of what matters

There’s no point testing unless you can communicate your findings. Upon the completion of our testing we synthesised our findings into the following structure:

  • Research & evaluation
  • Blank state/First-use
  • Global UX
  • Start Screen
  • 1st Scenario
  • 2nd Scenario
  • 3rd Scenario
  • Proto-persona testing
  • Competitor benchmarking
  • Other findings.

Then this was translated into:

  • A screen-by-screen breakdown of mobile user experience issues and recommendations
  • An issue tracker the in-house team could use to manage the response, status and resolution to each issue highlighted
  • A presentation that was delivered to the in-house team to provide further context on our findings.

This provided the in-house design and development team with a backlog of recommendations to be resolved prior to us commencing our second round of testing. In a matter of weeks Lothian Buses in-house team had worked through all of the recommendations highlighted in our first report and submitted a revised app for testing.

We adopted exactly the same approach for our second round of testing and once this was complete, we presented our final mobile user experience report. The final report included more short-term recommendations and a number of other discussion points that would be explored once the apps went live.

Lothian Buses on collaborating with Border Crossing UX

We were looking for UX experts to help us take the Transport for Edinburgh app to the next level and Border Crossing Media fit the bill – a local UX consultancy which are passionate about the projects they take on.

Esther and Francois helped us scope, refine and build the app through an iterative process of research, design and review. Their support and insights have been very much appreciated by the team here, and core to ensuring the design of our new app is centred on our customers. It’s been great working with them.

Mobile user experience … it’s a journey not a sprint

Now that both updates to the iOS and Android apps have gone live, we’ll be taking a bit of time to let the dust the settle and collate some baseline data. That said, we’re incredibly excited to be exploring a number of other opportunities and look forward to sharing some exciting announcements over the coming months.

Transport for Edinburgh App

But wait what do you think?

If you’re happy to share your take on the recent updates to both the iOS and Android journey planning apps, please do get in touch. Whether you’re a new or existing user your feedback matters! Drop us an email as we’d love to give you a call and learn more about your experience of using the latest journey planning apps.

Want to know more?

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Or give us a call on 0131 467 9227.

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