Redesigning the future of public transport: Service Design case study (Part 1)

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Do you love absolutely love traveling on public transport… or do you simply see it as a utility that gets you from A to B?

It’s a service that is used by millions around the world and is improving every day — integrating with new players like Uber, and allowing more people to travel in comfort while reducing the number of cars on the road.

So imagine the excitement for our digital team when we got the opportunity to redesign the future of public transport in our local city.

In this 5 part series, I’ll be covering the complete end-to-end process of a typical Service Design project — explaining the methodology used along the way.

  • Project plans can change: What we pitched and what we delivered were slightly different, but that was due to us receiving new information at the start of the project.
  • Avoid over delivering: We ended up delivering more wireframes than originally contracted and while it felt like we were leaving a good impression for the client, this wasn’t in the original statement of work. Over delivering means you may get a happy client, but you’re potentially missing out on what could have become an extension to the project.
  • Keep the energy up: When you’re running a workshop, the quality of the information you get from stakeholders depends a lot on their energy levels during the activity. Make sure you ease the group into the session with a suitable warm up activity, allow everyone to speak, move the group around, and provide snacks!
  • Offer incentives: User testing participants need incentives, if you try to skimp on incentives it can end up blocking the project and risk throwing it off schedule.

We’d all spent the last few weeks eagerly anticipating the start of this pioneering project which had received a fair chunk of local media coverage.

We’d researched the latest public transport developments across the globe and now, saturated with knowledge and coffee, were ready to unleash and make history.

This was our design brief: Design a holistic customer-centred web experience solution for the future payment and ticketing of our city’s public transport network.

Key considerations:

  • What is the user experience vision?
  • How will that manifest on desktop & mobile?
  • How might the experience be personalized based on behavioral data?
  • What will success look like and how will it be measured?
  • How might the information architecture of the digital interfaces be consistent, clear and customer-focused?
  • What business functions are required and how do they interact internally and externally?
  • What platform capabilities are required to fulfill future business objectives?

Scope: Not all user types or fare structures will be included in the initial Discovery Phase. A subsequent Detailed Design phase will take a deeper dive into those areas.

Timeline: 9 weeks.

The team was a mix of ‘us’ and ‘them’ (Consultants and Client Side stakeholders) combining our expertise with their in-house specialities to cover all aspects.

Our team: 7 of ‘us’ brought core capabilities such as Service Design, UX Design, Cognitive & Analytics, and Technical Business Analysis.

Their team: 4 of ‘them’ provided Systems Engineering, Technical, and Enterprise Architecture know-how, with a further 10 or so stakeholders and SME’s on call to feed in to requirements along the course of the project.

Logistics: We worked 4 days client site (1 day per week at our HQ).

Our initial project plan considered how each member of the team would be spending their time — whether that was researching, planning for workshops, taking care of project management details, or providing oversight.

But most plans come with caveats — and this was no exception!

Shortly after starting we quickly realised that some of the activities we had planned (eg: creating persona’s of core user types) were no longer needed.

  • Extensive user research had already been done
  • About 18 accurate personas already existed
  • Detailed business requirements existed

Even detailed prototypes of similar desktop and mobile experiences already existed!

So while this was kind of good news, it also meant that we had to rethink our approach and where we should be channeling our efforts.

The worst possible outcome for everyone would be to walk away from the engagement with the client feeling like they had hired us for nothing and we hadn’t delivered value.

So while some of our team continued working on activities that had formed the first few weeks of work, the project managers went back to the drawing board and tweaked the plan — placing more focus on the Customer Journey Mapping activities and getting started on competitor research.

Desktop research revealed leading edge implementations globally that we should base our solutions upon.

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