Strategy, UX/UI, Branding, Integrated

Modernizing online ticketing for one of New York’s largest bus companies

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Trailways of New York had an e-commerce website that no one was using. My role was to find out why and then redesign the site to make online ticketing easier.

Scope of work

Research

  • Competitive Review
  • 1-1 Interviews
  • Field Study Intercepts

Strategy

  • User Persona
  • Empathy Map
  • User Flow
  • Card Sorting

UX Design

  • Responsive Wireframes
  • Prototype
  • Usability Testing

UI Design

  • Logo + Iconography
  • Visual Design
  • Key Templates
  • UI Kit

SUMMARY

As the largest inter-city bus company in New York state, Trailways of NYʼs ticketing model relied on paper. Most tickets they offered were not available for purchase on their website, so riders had to visit stations where ticketing agents would type in their details and print out an oversized, 2- to 3-section ticket. Aside from the obvious expense, riders found the tickets and the lack of convenience frustrating.

A rebrand was also required when research showed another bus company also called Trailways that used a similar red color who owned the url trailways.com.

PROCESS

Research

Most people who ride Trailways live in a rural community and need to go to New York City. They’re grateful that the bus is available to them. Challenges about the service differ among regular commuters and occasional riders, though all agree the website doesn’t serve their needs and that paper ticketing is inconvenient, bad for the environment and wasteful if a ticket detaches and becomes invalid.

Commuters are extremely frustrated that they can’t buy their passes online. Every month they wait in line to get a packet of tickets. They want a system similar to airline travel, including a loyalty program. And they want utility added to the site like being able to track a bus enroute.

“I have to get up extra early to wait in line, then wait for the agent to print out a packet of tickets an inch thick. It’s crazy.”

Occasional riders have flexible schedules, so they want to get the best-priced tickets available. But the midweek discounted fares aren’t offered online, and the only ticket they can purchase on the site is the most restrictive. They leave extra early to purchase a ticket at the station and then hope the bus won’t be sold out or overcrowded. They only use the website for the timetables, and all navigate to them via search and not through the site’s home page.

“I feel like they deliberately discourage purchasing tickets online. It’s like they don’t want you to use the website.”

 Strategy

I developed a persona and empathy map for each passenger type — the commuter and the occasional rider — and then used the artifacts to prioritize frustrations and problems to solve with the new website.

A lot of people said the user flow for ticket purchasing on the site was confusing, so my next step was to work out a flow that allowed for any kind of ticket purchase on the site.

Finally, I conducted an online card sort and designed a new site map based on a structure users found most intuitive.

 UX Design

I spent a few hours researching direct and indirect competitor’s sites to understand best practices around online ticket purchasing and making sketches. Because both targets wanted to buy and use tickets on their phone, so I designed mobile first in Sketch. Then I built a low-fidelity prototype using InVision. Since the hours were tight, I did 3 quick rounds of testing with a user from each target,
iterating after each round.

Testing and iterating with the prototype was critical to making the experience successful for users. A few users objected to reserving a seat saying that it would create a class system on the bus and would make the boarding process longer. So I surveyed the other riders, who mostly agreed and tabled it. I also added additional functionality like the ability to provide feedback to the company.

UI Design

Remember I mentioned the other Trailways — the one that owned trailways.com? Several users were confused and frustrated when they tried to go to the Trailways site that used the same red color and book a ticket. So I did a quick rebrand for Trailways New York keeping their theme of trees and springboarding off their current forest green color.

The new site design is clean and modern. It uses a narrative flow to guide users through the ticketing purchase process. There are multiple types of tickets to purchase and more than one way to buy a ticket, which can now be an e-ticket. Plus riders earn points every time they take a trip.

Key Screens

REFLECTION

It’s great to work on a project for a company that provides so much value to their customers. There’s more research to do with riders who travel to and from other areas that Trailways covers. Users would also like a way to favorite routes and drivers. And the loyalty program needs to be researched, designed, tested and implemented.

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