We are designing a smartphone app meant to be used as a reference to find information, approximate arrival/departure times, distances between stops, and other related information about Boston’s MBTA, specifically the subway. The idea is to keep the app as simple as possible, allowing users to glance at information already familiar to them during their commute/trip to find what they need quickly and efficiently. The system can give some granular information if observed closely, but it can also only be used as a simple, quick reference.
We are conducting a study to discover how people interact with the system. Your personal information (i.e. your name) will not be recorded or published; this study is meant only to discover how our potential demographic will be able to use the system.
The system should be straight-forward to navigate through, especially if you have any working knowledge of the MBTA. The purpose of this study is for us to confirm or deny how user-friendly the interface is. Instead of using an actual smartphone, we have created paper versions of what we want our interface to look like. I will act as your “smartphone,” moving the pages around to simulate what the system would do when actually implemented. Other members of the team will act as observers, taking notes on how you interact with the system.
This is not meant to be a test of your abilities. This is a test of our system. Since you are imitating what a user would do in real life, our team will keep explanations as minimal as possible. If you find any problems or cannot proceed, that is a problem with the system that needs to be fixed. Upon completion, please tell us what makes sense, what’s confusing, any questions you may think of, and what did or did not work as you expected.
(1) Turn on the GPS setting.
(2) Find Roxbury Crossing station.
(3) Navigate from Roxbury Crossing to the Blue Line.
Regarding our first task of simply turning the GPS feature on, none of the users seemed to have any issues being able to figure that out, which is most likely due to our use of a gear for Settings, as is commonly used. No problems to fix there.
Again, when it came to navigating to a station page, the users had no issues. Since the users had already seen the main page of “Station” or “Line” choices, they were shown straight away how they could navigate to a station. While this is not available on the Settings page, there is a pretty obvious Home button (it’s a picture of a house) on every page. Users easily figured they could click Home to get back to the choices between Line and Station dropdowns, where they found Roxbury Crossing.
Our last task was the most “complicated.” That is, it put up a bigger wall for the users than our other tasks. A couple users almost seemed to stumble across the solution by accident. They hit the “Orange Line” button and then State Street, which is shown to have a connection to the Blue Line. While they found the solution and the interface seems to eventually explain itself, they stumbled around the system a bit before even trying to do anything. Another user navigated back to the Home Page, as they would have for navigating to a Station from the Settings page. While this wasn’t the task we wanted to accomplish, it was the correct solution.
Our biggest issue was with users was them not knowing they could navigate to maps from pages other than the Home Page. One issue this could be is just their unfamiliarity with the MBTA. There is only one Blue Line connection from the Orange Line and we have not currently implemented a feature to jump directly between them. Right now, the user had to go from a station to the Orange Line to one specific station to the Blue Line. A feature we could implement to solve this problem would be to give the user the ability to jump from the Orange Line to the Blue Line directly (along with all the other lines, of course).
Beyond that, we didn’t seem to have issues with users navigating around the system and finding the information they need.