This is a project developed for a UX design bootcamp taught by the Interaction Design Foundation. I choose the sector of high-speed railways, in the process of liberalization in Spain, as the Renfe app is a well-known case of poor design and bad practices on usability.
VALA is a fictitious brand that would prepare to enter the Spanish high-speed rail market. They identify online sales as one of Renfe´s best known weaknesses. Therefore, we will optimize the user experience when purchasing tickets online.
Given the monopoly situation in this sector, the first steps of the research focus on the analysis of the shopping experience in the app and on the Renfe website. We use several methods to obtain an overview of possible weaknesses or strengths:
First, an online survey (through Google Forms) was applied to 15 Renfe users on purchase channels and ease of use. It´s a short survey that confirms the user´s perceived need to improve the online purchasing process. We verified the low popularity of the app, the current preference to make the purchase through the web (although this medium does not register a high level of satisfaction either) and the demand for an app that meets the user´s expectations. Among these we see a more intuitive interface, a simplified purchase process and a simple user registration.
The obtained answers, together with usability tests and the heuristic evaluation of the Renfe Tickets app, help to locate a series of problems and needs of the users.
For example, in the usability test some confusion is found about what offers each one of the rates. The app should offer this information before starting the purchase.
In the heuristic evaluation of the Renfe Tickets app, we already found several serious problems, such as the difficulty of changing the payment method. Something that is easily solved by integrating it into the user settings.
In the survey, users highlighted on 3 occasions the importance of an easy user registration, probably because purchasing via the Renfe website is more usual. For this reason, relatively frequent users will value an app in which they only have to register once.
We integrate these and other observations in the creation of Personas.
From these Personas and the associated Journey maps, information will be obtained on functionalities that may be attractive to users, such as the "Share Travel" function (which allows informing contacts or potential travelling companions about the departure / arrival time), marking "Favorites" (which facilitates the comparison and selection of trips, also with the possibility of sharing) or the sending of payment vouchers (for users who travel for work and need to justify expenses).
Then, the digital purchasing means of other sectors (airlines) and companies in the European environment are analyzed, reviewing usability principles, reviews obtained, weaknesses and strengths.
After some sketches on paper, a prototype of medium fidelity establishes the structure, the flows and the main functionalities of the app.
Five usability texts are applied to this prototype with a positive result. The times spent making a purchase and a search for schedules are measured. Users complete the purchase process quickly and understand the functioning of the different elements of the interface, both those they use in the requested process and others for which they are asked.
The final prototype is dynamic. Depending on the state of the user´s profile and the service itself, the home screen offers 4 status.
Status 1. There are no purchased trips or a previous search.
Status 2. There are two pending trips (horizontal scroll) and the origin and destination of the last search are suggested, with today´s date by default.
Status 3. The next trip area is expanded to enlarge the QR code and offer options to change, cancel or share a trip. By default it will remain open 30 minutes before departure time.
Status 4. Once the trip has started, the GPS location and the expected arrival time are shown.
The “Share trip” function will be available until the departure time. In the chosen medium, a message will appear by default with the departure and arrival times, a link with more information about the trip (Timetable section, which includes the updated arrival time) and another direct link to purchase. Both links will open the app, or the web page if the app is not installed.
The Hours section is visually different from the Purchase one. It is aimed at users less interested in buying, but clicking on a trip it offers the option "Go to purchase". You can check the completed routes and those in transit, with the arrival time in red if there is a delay. It is a useful function for those who come to the station to pick up passengers.
A new usability test is applied to the purchase process in the final prototype. The result is good, no user is mistaken or feels lost and they complete the task faster than in the medium fidelity prototype.