Problems with existing app
What I have noticed with the existing app :
When I first opened up the app, it gave me a cluster of menus and routes, which was visually unpleasant. After exiting out, I looked at the routes for the shuttles. As a first time user, I had no idea which bus is which and what the colors meant. I also had a difficult time figuring out where the bus stops were and which one I would go to to get to a destination. The app also neglected the fact that there is a scheduled time for the shuttles. In addition, the bus numbers assigned to the route was difficult to find since the text was so small. The alerts were also not as noticeable as they should be, since it displayed some essential information such as bus cancellations.
I also took a look at the website parallel to the app, which was just as confusing and did not offer additional information.
Main problems: Lack of information, uncertainty, randomness, unpleasant aesthetics, unfriendliness
Based on some of the problems I saw, I drew out a storyboard for a possible problems in encounter of the app with a student who has never used it before.
Rough ideas on what the refined app would look like
Based on some issues, I made a rough sketch of what a refined app may look like once the problems are solved.
I was inspired by the Waze app (which was mentioned during my critique) about communicating traffic to other drivers and recognizing where they are (through GPS)
So I followed a similar format of notifying other bus riders the current road traffic and bus status, as students becoming part of the alert system will be much faster and accurate than the current system. In addition, rather than a rigid alert system which users could easily ignore, a chatting system would be much more noticeable.
I rendered the first iteration of what the refined app might look like after experiencing the shuttle for the first time.
The new features added to the app includes
-Destination search: Much like Google Maps, users can search their destination instead of having to toggle around looking for the closest stop to their destination. Directions are also offered as well as stop names and how long it would take to get there (Not sure what to do with the bus stop list and time until arrival?)
-Live view map: I had a hard time finding the shuttle stops and in the end, gave up using the app to look for the stop, instead used my memory of seeing a bus shelter and buses. So the refined app may offer something like live view map where the user could flash her camera around where she is and it would show arrows to follow to get to the designated bus stop.
-Requesting stop through app: This is also an idea from a problem I ran into while using the shuttle. I didn’t exactly know where the bus was supposed to stop ( I knew the name of the bus stops but the location of the stops were very unclear) so I almost missed where I was supposed to get off. Thus I added the ‘request stop’ feature where users could notify the bus drivers to stop through the app.
-Chat alert (?): I’m feeling unsure about this feature, but when I first took the bus, it was during the rush hour and there was a lot of traffic. Since the bus had a scheduled arrival time (every 30 minutes) for each stop, instead of arriving late the the scheduled time, the bus driver decided to wait for the next 30 minutes until leaving the current stop. I wondered how the students waiting at the next stop would be notified of such information. Instead of the current, unrecognizable alert system, there would be a chat alert system where other users of the app could post alerts in a chat format of current bus status (delayed due to traffic etc..).
Rough story boarding
After a second trip on the shuttle, I sketched a storyboard based on my refined version of the app.
I received some helpful critique to explore more about the environment rather than investing everything on just creating the app.
Thus, I start exploring the components connected with the shuttle system….
Photo Story board
The second iteration of andybus app,
I took another trip on the shuttle and incorporated some solutions to problems with environmental factors.
I noticed that the the system is very unclear to which bus to take and which stop to get off (as there is no indication of what the stop name is). In addition, some people mentioned that the bus gets really crowded but nothing indicates that information.
In this iteration, I added features such as:
-Notification until arrival: So here’s a scenario. Amy, who is a CMU student, busy as can be, decides to leave the library when there is 10 minutes (the time it takes for her to walk to the shuttle stop) until the bus arrives. Meanwhile, she does her homework since there is still 30 minutes until arrival. When she looks at the app again, she realized that she has been immersed in her homework for too long and there is now 5 minutes until arrival. Amy misses her bus. So in order to eliminate problems like this, I added the notification system. Users can set up a notification for minutes until bus arrival, where they will get a push notification along with vibration.
-Countdown: In the current app, the minutes until bus arrival does not get updated unless I constantly refresh, which takes FOREVER. So to mitigate this problem I added a function where a countdown until bus arrival is started as soon as a user activates her route.
-Rider tracking: Before the user take off to her stop, she can see the number of people at the stop and currently on the bus and where on the bus. If there are too many people, she can decide to take the next bus. Also, she can decide to wait until there are more people at the bus stop if she feels unsafe being by herself at the bus stop. (is there technology that could use sensors to scan an area and determine the number of people and their location?)
-Indication of the user’s bus: It is very difficult to see the bus number on the current shuttles. Thus, this could create problems such as getting on the wrong bus. This feature (which is activated along with the live-view directions) highlights the right bus in the color of the user’s route.
-Registered bus stop display: Since there are really no limitations, I decided that the bus stop request would be automatically transmitted to the bus when the user activates her route. Once the user is on the bus, she can view the bus stops the bus is currently registered to stop at. If, for some reason, the user does not see her bus stop, she can manually do that through her app.
-Notification to get off: Since the indication of where the bus would stop is very vague unless the user is used to the route, there is uncertainty of when the user would need to get ready to get off the bus. The refined app would notify the users as their stop in approaching with a light-up screen and vibration.
I did some sketching before jumping to the photograph storyboard.
This also brought up some interesting ideas such as the interactive bus stop and a dashboard screen for the driver.
Photo Storyboard Presentation
Critique and additional features brainstrom
After critique, I got some new ideas for the final refined app. I decided to keep my interactive bus stop idea and have a screen on the side of the bus stop that users could interact with.
I also got inspired by the preexisting bus stops with LED screens from Korea.
Unlike the preexisting ones, however, I plan to make my screen touch sensitive so users can interact with it. However, the interaction would be minimal to avoid congestion in in the bus shelters.
In addition, the bus driver’s dash would have a navigation screen that would show notifications and is connected to the chat feature for users and other bus drivers.
I also did some thumbnail sketches for the final presentation..
Some aesthetic features were also altered, but for the most part, I decided to keep integrity with the current app because I liked its simple, chic appearance.
And for a personal preference, I added a lot of transparencies in the aesthetics.
The bus driver’s screen as well as the bus stop has a parallel aesthetic to the app.