Over a period of three months, we performed a contextual inquiry and usability evaluation of Blacksburg Transit iOS application followed by the design and evaluation of prototypes with new features.
Blacksburg Transit (BT) is the public transportation provider for Blacksburg, Virginia Tech, and Christiansburg in southwest Virginia, making over 1.3 million trips annually.
The project contained a contextual inquiry to gather general feedback regarding the BT4U mobile application. As a result of interviews and survey feedback, we learned users felt the mobile application had certain limitations such as poor user interface, lack of personalization options and slow performance. Many also complained about the lack of push notifications. The insights from the inquiry laid down a solid foundation for the succeeding stages of the project.
Subsequently, we had regular interactions with our clients, i.e. Project Manager (Tim Whitten), Communications & Customer support specialist (Fiona Rhodes), and the Automation Creation, Inc. design team. These interactions were instrumental in narrowing down the scope of the project to a subset of major UX shortcomings. Analyzing the raw work data collected in the inquiry, the team generated work roles, work activity affinity diagram, system models, and user personas. The team then moved towards ideation and sketching of new application features, with a focus on: (i) Bus capacity, (ii) Personalization options, (iii) Plan a Trip, (iv) Weather and (v) Push Notifications . Thereafter, we focussed on more advanced stages of UX development such as storyboarding, wireframing and design of prototypes.
High fidelity prototypes were developed using Axure RP 8. User and client inspections and evaluations of the prototypes were conducted and their feedback were used for incremental refinements of the prototypes.
The prototype introduced by the team provides the framework for future application implementations and offers UX solutions to many of the problems identified during the contextual inquiry. Further, areas of future improvement were identified, baseline usability scores were established, and specific feedback was gathered at the request of the client. The usability solutions developed and recommended by the team were a result of a structured user experience process that improved the application design, functionality, customization, and ease of use.