SimplyBart is an app that aims to improve the everyday BART user's experience in terms of safety and efficiency. Born out of my first human-centered design class (the Fall 2018 DeCal taught by Berkeley Innovation) SimplyBart helps users plan their trips, speeds up the clipper card payment process, and encourages communication between friends who BART together.
I initially conducted user research with Andrea Chisholm and Ted Lee, then we split off and created our own products. Scroll through to see my design process and a video of an interactive demo.
User Research & Key Insights
I wanted to learn about other people’s experiences using BART. How did people interact with BART, how did they feel about the process of taking the BART, and what were their specific issues with the system?
We interviewed 12 different people about their BART experience, most of them college kids (though ages spanned 18-50).
Some interview questions we asked:
How would you describe your general experience with the BART?
How long are you on Bart for? / How frequently do you ride?
Are there any distinctive features (or missing features) of the BART compared to other transportation?
What are some important necessities when using the BART?
Can you walk me through your routine when you use BART?
Some key takeaways we gained:
Most people take BART alone.
Many like to engage in some type of media during rides (phone, book, laptop).
News about stabbings on BART raised concerns about safety.
Many consider reloading money into clipper cards a hassle.
A recurring pain point is not knowing the difference between Northbound and Southbound trains.
Many feel the BART is unhygienic.
"As a girl who travels alone, I check my surroundings a lot."
"My first time taking BART was daunting because the map was hard to interpret."
Ideation: Divergent Thinking
Thinking about the user interviews, we came up with 3 essential goals for the BART:
User Journey Map & Personas
In order to gain a better understanding of the user experience, I created a user journey map. I also compiled the 12 interviewees into 3 user personas.
Will is extremely organized. Since he often uses the BART to get to work and other areas, he likes to spend time planning his BART schedule by going onto the AC Transit website and writing down the specific steps, departure times, and amount of money to bring in a more clear and organized way (he believes the website is a bit confusing).
Rachel has a poor sense of time and is not very organized. She goes to the BART station without checking arrival times. On several occasions, she has missed the nearest upcoming train because she spent too much time transferring money onto her clipper card.
Jon is an avid explorer. He has made multiple friends all over the Bay, and they all use BART to meet up with each other. Once in a while, he runs into scary situations with strangers and worries about his and his friends' safety.
Upon further research, I discovered that BART will be releasing 800 new train cars that address issues such as noise, cleanliness, and confusion over the current location of the train. Since this already tackles the hygiene and wayfinding issue, I decided to turn my focus on safety and accessibility.
I decided to make a mobile application that confronts the inefficient process of constantly having to reload clipper cards at kiosk stations. I also wanted to provide a simple, easy way to organize trips and connect BART users with one another.
I started by creating initial lo-fi sketches of the mobile app. I wanted to allow users to reload their physical clipper cards on their phone, but after receiving feedback I decided to go one step further and make the clipper card itself mobile.
Revisiting what I had learned from user interviews, (stories of others asking people for a few dollars to buy a ticket due to forgotten credit cards or cash, stories of people getting asking for an ETA but not knowing when they were supposed to arrive, stories of wanting to check up on friends and family who were on BART) I also wanted to include features that enabled users to organize their trip, share it with contacts, see each other’s locations on BART, and send each other funds.
I decided on a light color palette - blue and pink. I wanted the app to look friendly, bright, and easy to use. I included a tab bar at the bottom so that the user could easily switch between tasks.
I think that my product helps tackle the BART issues of safety and accessibility. SimplyBart allows users to communicate and exchange funds with each other, as well as keep an eye out for each other. It also simplifies the clipper card process, saving the user time and effort.
If I had more time, I would want to implement a notification system that lets users know when they’re approaching their stop. I would also want to interview more people to understand the BART experience through a wider perspective of several different age groups, genders, races, personalities, etc. Overall, I am pleased with my first prototype and hope to continue improving and refining it! :)