I'm a Philly native who has been using SEPTA for years. I became interested in identifying the issues SEPTA has when I forgot to carry physical cash with me on the train one day, and almost got kicked off for not being able to pay for my ticket. It was a frustrating experience to have, especially since we live in an age where we can pay for almost everything digitally.
SEPTA seemed like a ripe organization to conduct research for and uncover a problem to solve. Maybe this solution could help change the negative perception they have in our city, or at least help them better understand why people feel so strongly about it.
My Role: UX Researcher, Information Architect, and UX Designer
I created a survey to collect data from SEPTA riders to reinforce my design decisions and uncover the primary pain points to solve for.
I shared the survey on social media, had acquaintances with a different subset of Philly-based friends share it on their networks, and posted it in online communities where people might have the most experience using SEPTA. Having a diverse range of participants was important to me.
The survey can be found here.
From my 50 survey participants, I uncovered some of the following data:
Many survey participants preferred using GPS apps to plan their trips due to ease and efficiency of using them. I noticed a common theme in my responses because of this:
Since the most common theme in my responses involved the confusing schedule layout, I visualized this experience through a flow chart to demonstrate why it's so convoluted.
After discovering many people had issues navigating SEPTA's website, I performed a content audit to get a sense of the info found on there and how they label and organize it.
I prepared a list of questions and ventured out to interview anyone with experience using public transportation, as well as conductors to ensure I was designing a better user experience for all parties. I was able to pull some useful information in a conversational format, where I could explore interesting responses with follow-up questions.
While conducting interviews, I met someone from Chicago who had nothing but positive things to say about the Chicago Transit Authority. Based on my interview with him, I constructed a persona to capture his experience with the CTA to demonstrate what riders are looking for out of a positive transit experience.
From what Sean told me, the Ventra app was a major influence on his positive experiences with the Chicago Transit Authority. I conducted a competitive analysis of the app to see what kind of features I could pull from in a proposed solution for SEPTA:
Paying with Ventra
Planning Trips with Ventra vs SEPTA App
By showing what the CTA achieves through their Ventra app, I am not only confirming that my solutions are feasible, but demonstrating to SEPTA what their competitors are doing well.
With a better idea of where to take the direction of the app, I began sketching some ideas on ways the scheduling experience could be improved.
After rapidly sketching out features, I made wireframes and prototypes in Axure and conducted some user testing to refine the flow and ensure my solution worked.
• One user was skeptical whether Suburban Station was the closest station to La Colombe
• Destination needed to be present throughout the entire flow if users wanted to update their trip, and ensure they were planning for the right location
• The term "Enter Destination" makes people think they must know the exact address they're looking for
• I forgot to add how much fare for trips would cost
• There was an excessive amount of text on the screen and still too many steps involved
After making updates based on the feedback I received, I made another prototype and tested with a new set of users.
I improved my labeling and hierarchy to convey crucial information through my wireframes, and draw the user's eye to areas of importance.
Users were able to successfully navigate through my prototype in the way I intended. Here is what they had to say about my designs:
Designing a better SEPTA scheduling experience is only one piece of the puzzle. Eventually, there should be some synchronicity between the SEPTA app and SEPTA Key.
As shown in my survey data, the way people pay for fare is all over the place right now. Consolidating payment methods with trip planning would unify this experience, and is a step forward in moving away from the archaic method of punching tickets; resulting in less frustration for passengers and conductors alike.