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User research and experience design for a public transport digital wayfinding system

CLIENT: TRANSPORT FOR LONDON

A 6 month project to research problems with digital wayfinding at Canning Town station and redesign the information architecture and user interface for London’s public transport provider, Transport for London - TFL. 

User Research
Experience Design
Visual Design

The problem

Customers at Canning Town station were confused by the complex multi level station layout, and the fact that two destinations were served from two different platforms on different levels. On-screen information was limited and hard to read.

Step 1 - Discovery

Pedestrian mapping revealed congestion was an issue at the station, especially at the centre of platforms 5 and 6, where passengers were changing mode between underground and rail services.

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  • Work out which train called at the station they wanted, by looking at static line diagrams or network maps

  • Find and consult a screen to find the next departure with its platform number

  • ​Go back to static signage to try to work out where the stated platform is located

To find their way, customers had to:

Step 2 - Define use cases

Primary users were commuters and tourists changing between underground and overground rail services at Canning Town. I identified 10 journey types and 4 use cases that would test the hypothetical problem statement.

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Step 3 - Workshops

8 interactive remote workshops in Miro with 12 key stakeholders, helped me identify customer pain points and user experience problems. Participants were asked to plot their journeys through the station on a floorplan, whilst explaining their decision making, whilst refering to images of existing digital wayfinding.

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I created floorplans of the station in Illustrator, then brought them in to Miro, alongside numbered photographs showing the wayfinding information at each point to help participants orientate themselves.

Step 4 - Information map

Insights from the workshops enabled me to build a detailed information map on to station floorplans in Miro. I was able to then highlight key decision making points and showed what information customers required when.

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Participants behaviours, pain points and responses were captured on stickies in Miro as they plotted their routes

This enabled me to establish where the key decision making points were and what information was needed at each point

Step 5 - Design

User research helped me identify 4 categories of required screen module:
i) departures, ii) platform overview, iii) specific platform finder and iv) continuing your journey. I designed 3 concepts for these 4 modules in Adobe XD and performed 2 rounds of iterations following feedback.

Before - existing screens

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  • Small type size is hard to read

  • Only Docklands Light Railway (DLR) mode is shown - no Underground - despite both being available from the station

  • Design doesnt reflect TFL brand guidelines

Departures screen concept - first iteration

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  • 3 destination lines per screen allows larger type sizes, increases visibility, quicker to scan, therefore reducing dwell time

  • Both London Underground and Docklands Light Railways departures displayed

  • TFL digital display brand standards reflected

Departures module final iteration

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  • Colour coded bands added to identify mode, instead of modal roundel on each line to reduce clutter and place emphasis on platform number

  • Scrolling calling points added to enable customers to find their destination as well as the platform number on the same screen

  • Scrolling footer added to provide customers with additional realtime event related information

Platform finder - Station overview module (click to play animation)

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  • An axonometric station map, created in Adobe Illustrator and XD helps customers understand the station’s multi level architecture

  • Animation was used to highlight the 2 main lifts - addressing a key pain point for customers who required help to locate step-free access

  • Animation brought additional clarity to the infographic, and can be used in station management, such as changing pedestrian flows at peak times and highlighting maintenance issues 

Platform finder - Ticket hall  module

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  • The ticket hall level, drawn using Adobe XD shows the main interchange level, helping customers easily identify their location and how to reach their desired platform

Platform finder - Platform specific module (platforms 1 and 2 DLR line)

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  • The use of simplified platform diagrams and uncluttered layout are quick to scan and interpret - reducing dwell time at screens, preventing congestion

  • Colour coding used on the edge of each platform helps to emphasize the modal service from each platform ( in this case the teal colour of the DLR is shown)

  • Animation was used to highlight passenger location with a pulsing red dot. 

Platform finder - Platform specific module (platforms 5 and 6 Jubilee line)

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  • Clear prominent arrows guide pedestrian flow and assist in station orientation

Ticket hall at Canning Town station - visualisation of proposed 3 new screens showing departures module, platform finder module and continuing your journey module

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Delivery and Outcomes

To enable the review board to remotely experience a realistic vision of the solution I created a virtual 360 walk through of the station using panoramic video with digital screens superimposed on to it, so they could view it using Google Cardboard for final approval.

The concept was approved and funding agreed for production in 2021. The new approach to digital wayfinding is expected to ease congestion, and to improve the overall customer experience.

A 360 station walkthrough was filmed, then new screen designs superimposed within it to help bring the proposed solution to life for review board.