What I found out using UrbanGo for the first time.

Arleth C. Ferrer
6 min readMar 17, 2021

Ironhack’s Pre-work: Design ThinkingChallenge1

UrbanGo is a public transit and mapping startup based in Silicon Valley. Their goal is to solve the problems of urban mobility by offering the quickest and cheapest public and private transport routes to their users.

Although the current product of UrbanGo already solves some of the main problems of urban mobility, I quickly found out that there is one pain point: it is the amount of different public transport tickets the users have to purchase.

Public transport tickets come in paper or plastic cards. Very often buying different public transport tickets is necessary to go from point A to B. And the process of buying these tickets can be very annoying (queues, vending machines that don’t work, etc). Finally, things like pricing or purchasing the correct ticket can become a real pain.

In that regard, I gave myself the task to inquire more about the experiences of other users.

  1. What We Think: Empathize

In the normal day by day, people are able to handle the situation. For instance, when you are in your local city, you are familiar with the place and know exactly where to go and where to ask for information. Or when you have an appointment, missed your stop, but you are near the office, you can easily walk (you don’t want to waste more money buying another ticket). There could be many different factors. Whatever the reason is, you are in your comfort zone. BUT, what happens when you are abroad?…

2. What I found out: Define

In my journey to find a solution for the app, I conducted some interviews with assiduous users of public transportation from different cities.
The main point was to determine how users in the range of 18 to 50 years old use the public transportation. How often they bought tickets, either in their cities and abroad. And how they bought them, if they bought in the ticket counter, from the machines or with apps. Also, the frequency (by time, weekly, monthly or yearly) and by distance, zones or time.

There is one problem which all the users agreed on: “The difficulty of using the public transportation abroad”, especially because the connectivity is not always a possibility. Therefore, buying the tickets online was complicated.

In all cases, language took a big part in the way they experienced the service. Another problem, was the lack of information regarding money, that is to say, in order to buy tickets a credit card is needed, sometimes the users were not able to provide it due to age. Or on the contrary, some of them found “cash only” machines in smaller cities, limiting the purchase. And here is where the next problem came out. Usually, users never know where one zone starts or where the other ends, or if they but a “one way” ticket that is also valid for one hour, so that is where they enter what I called The “Twilight Zone”. And this is a big thing because when you are not well informed, this can result in fines with the transportation controllers.

There is nothing worse than to be worried by “logistic problems”, while you are abroad. That takes away time, money and energy.

3. Going Crazy With The Ideas: Ideate

As a solution, and based on the information I received, I can only understand that the importance of creating a new feature in the app is high.

⦿ The app needs to provide the feeling that you can get from point A to B as smooth and relaxed as if you were in the spa.

⦿ The app needs to have the option to quickly switch languages, in order to help the user to easily choose the routes.

⦿ Finally, the new feature called “All-in-oneTrip”.

  • The functionality of this feature is that it will track your journey with GPS. In case that the user needs to go from A to B, or travel around the city, the route will be detected by the app, (all transports and connections will be included) and at the end of the day the payment will be automatically generated by the system.
  • Once the first trip starts, a notification with a QR will automatically pop-up. That means, that the trip starts and every connection will be saved. This will be the also the proof for the transportation controllers, that can check the GPS is running ok.
  • With a click in the notification, a new window will be opened. Here, the information of the entire route will be included, when the last trip has been completed.
  • At the end of the day, the total amount of the trips will be charged to a credit or debit card, Paypal, Twint or other electronic payment method linked and will be displayed directly in a payments overview screen as a receipt. The total amount will be displayed in the currency of where the user is from.
  • When it is not possible to provide any electronic payment method, there will be the option to buy a pre-pay code. That can be bought in cash through the machines or directly at the ticket counter.
  • The code needs to be entered in the app and the “credit” will be displayed in the payment overview screen. Also, it will be deducted at the end of the day, when credit is left and not used, it will be simply refunded.
  • Live notifications such as traffic, cancellations or delays will pop-up in the map screen. It can be opened with a click, for more details.

4. Building: Prototype

5. What I Learned

As a conclusion I can say that it is very important to create or improve technology based on the user experience, because “Design Thinking” could be applied, basically to everything. In my previous experience service was spiced up a little bit with personality, but it was learned. I just realized, that there is always something that can be improved and there’s nothing better than making use of the new technologies, which not only improve the user experience, but provide information about the service performed, help both business and users, to make better strategy choices, cut costs, and the best part, like in this exercise they become sustainable.

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