Transportation and the successful growth of a future smart city like Seattle go hand in hand. Without constantly evolving, efficient, and convenient mobility options that growth becomes stunted. As a result, for our capstone project, advised by Amazon, we decided to focus on multimodal transportation in the Seattle area.
In our research, we learned that commuters across the United States have a strong desire to move smart, quickly, and cost-effectively and currently do all they can to ensure they move that way, such as by planning their trips in advance and making the best out of their available transportation options.
There is also an exciting and burgeoning trend of using multimodal transportation to get around. This includes, but is not limited to, driving, biking, walking, and using public transportation to move. While multimodal transportation has transformed mobility patterns like never before, there still exist major pain points that need to be addressed so that this form of transportation can better address a commuter’s personal needs and preferences and be a smoother, less frustrating process.
Seattle as a smart city
Master's Capstone Project
Visual & Interaction Design
Voice UX Design
Low-Fi & High-Fi Prototype Testing
Dec 2018 — Aug 2019
Mobile app (with VUI)
Lead UX Designer
How might we facilitate transportation for multimodal commuters and provide them with a travel system that will allow them to transport themselves in a personalized and time-efficient manner?
I designed and used a screener to recruit these participants and received over 100 responses.
The study was comprised of 12 participants, that are a sample of commuters in the Seattle area with multimodal behaviors who tend to use different modes of transportation based on the trip they take every day.
Our goal in recruiting transportation experts was to gain a deeper understanding of the external factors that contribute to the formation of transit patterns in individuals and society at large.
These factors include transportation policies, short-term/long-term traffic plans, public transit services, current transit pain points, and potential opportunities and threats caused by the transportation system in the Seattle area.
To bridge the current world of transit to the speculative future of transportation in the Seattle area, I recruited traffic experts from the Seattle Department of Transportation, as well as the University of Washington.
Conducting 7 Semi-structured interviews allowed us to gain a more holistic understanding of multimodal transportation, the people that use it, how they use it, and what their needs and behaviors are.
Transit apps narrow mobility behaviors by offering limited alternatives and information.
"The problem is I never know if the bus has any space left on its bike rack till I get there and see."
- Alia, she takes her bike everywhere
Fly on the wall
We conducted one collective session of a 150-minute observation of commuters during morning rush hour in U-District between the hours of 8:00 am - 10:30 am in the middle of the workweek. Special attention was paid to observing if commuters used different modes of transportation, such as bikes, skateboards, or rideshare, to get to and from different link and bus stations in the Seattle area.
Transit Lack of multimodal integration on a technological, physical, and financial level causes a lot of frustration for commuters and prevents them from developing new mobility habits.
While the participatory design workshop and the semi-structured interviews allowed participants to discuss their thoughts around the transportation system using a storytelling method, the diary study enabled us to explore the real-life experience of participants by studying their everyday interactions with the Seattle area and its transportation systems.
In order for multimodal integration to be successfully implemented in a city, it has to replicate the sense of freedom, independence, and convenience private cards provide.
"Access to cars gives a lot of people what they want: Freedom. Freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want."
- Armin has written in his transit diary
Participatory design workshop
I designed the structure and activities of the participatory design workshop to understand people’s pain points, attitudes, and expectations towards transportation and design solutions WITH them.
We analyzed the results of the participatory design workshop and used Crazy 8's ideation method. As a result, we came up with 150 concepts.
Then, we created a decision matrix according to our insights and design principles and started narrowing down concepts to select the top 3 concepts.
After analyzing the concepts and applying multiple down-selection methods, we proposed a concept that would include the core values of our top three concepts: transit accommodation, real-time info, and VUI transit recommendation.
"It's something that I would definitely use. I use SpotHero to find a parking space and Google Maps to go to different places...so having access to all of them in one place would be pretty cool."
- Sarah uses bus and her private car
I used my project management skills to breakdown the project into actionable user stories and allocate a sufficient amount of time to usability testing and design research.
We learned that:
The dark color palette caused some usability issues
Micro-interactions are very important due to the hand-off delays
Voice commands were not clear for all participants (4/7 couldn't complete the given goals)
Voice input UX
Using the data from the diary study and literature review, we understood that most of the commuters' voice interactions and trip planning happen either at home or in other indoor environments. However, trip customization usually happens in the middle of transit or very close to when the commuter wants to initiate the trip. As a result, we designed a voice UX that would allow commuters to:
1. plan their trips from the convenience of their homes (or any other indoor environment)
2. customize their trips using voice commands
Voice input triggers
Voice trigger: The user will utter a phrase that will prompt the device to begin processing the speech (“Puente”)
Tactile trigger: Pressing the microphone button in the app
To test the voice UX for indoor (home) use cases, we created storyboards based on the three main use cases of voice UX.We tested the voice UX using the Wizard of Oz (WoZ) approach with 12 participants.
Initial Prompt: For first time users, or when a user seems stuck, we need to display an initial prompt or suggestions to facilitate voice communication.
Voice feedback: Feedback is critical to successful voice interface UX.
Corrective feedback: When Puente is unable to decipher the user’s intent, it should respond with a corrective option. This allows the user to select another option or restart the conversation entirely.
A personalized and time-efficient planning app for multimodal commuters.
Plan trips (UI & Voice Commands)
Customize trips (UI & Voice Commands)
Hand-off to other apps
Customers select their preferred modes of transit and other information during onboarding to increase the accuracy of suggestions. Additionally, the app starts learning their transit behaviors to help create a more personalized experience.
decision making process
for early access
Designing voice UX requires a great sense of empathy.
When we started this project, we aimed to address customer needs and frustration with the transportation system in the Seattle area. Additionally, we wanted an opportunity to be ambitious and learn.
As a result, we created a huge project that got bigger than us. We learned that designing a voice UX requires as much work as designing a UI (or even more). The complexity of designing natural and seamless voice conversations requires a great sense of empathy. As a result of this project, we became great listeners. We listened to commuters' needs, frustrations, their voices, their languages, and their goals.
We designed experiences with them rather than designing experiences for them.