London bus stop redesign

This project won Best Student Project at the 2015 UXUK Awards.

The group project brief was to rethink the basic design of the London bus shelter, and how it supports use by different communities of passengers for local bus services in London suburbs.

We were encouraged to think about comfort, convenience and safety, and how HCI could enhance passengers’ experience. We also sought to explore the ways that creative design techniques and tools might be used in the creative process, and in aiding us arrive at a design prototype with significant novelty and utility.

We conducted a number of observations at bus stops and on buses in suburban areas of London, in order to try to understand the different passenger groups throughout the day, and how they used the space around local bus stops.

After this initial user research, we carried out a number of ideation activities, first to generate as many ideas as possible, then to converge on a more concrete solution. Techniques included structured brainstorming, creativity triggers, constraint removal and analogical problem solving; all of which provided a number of interesting ideas.

Personas (defined from our initial research) were used to help constrain requirements and make us mindful of our user groups. After observation demonstrated many bus stops didn’t have shelters, we chose to develop the touchpoint of the pole and flag which has much scope for redesign, particularly with a view to providing more accessible information. Our focus was on empathy with users, relevance and user experience, but in particular we sought to meet Dieter Rams’s principles of good design, concentrating on simplicity in form and function.

Flag and post development
Flag and post development

We observed that people were constantly on the lookout for their bus so frequently unable to do other things while waiting. This led to the inclusion of a ‘stop’ button in our final design, and audio-visual alerts when the bus was approaching. The top of the flag sees the numbers moved to the opposite side, which illuminate if a stop request has been made.

Off-peak usage storyboard
Off-peak usage storyboard

The other major change is the timetables on the post. The current timetable area is designed around the size of an A4 sheet of paper for easy replacement. By substituting this for a screen and using real-time information, we were able to drastically simplify the information being displayed.

Final design
Final design

In our final design, the timetable display is intended to be a high-contrast, low power e-ink colour screen which works well in strong daylight. Apart from the ‘stop’ buttons, there is no user interaction; this was deliberate considering the diverse user base and the fact it should be able to be used by as many people as possible at once.

Information is sorted by route and actual bus positions indicated on the ‘spider map’. Simple graphics are used for quick comprehension. Bus capacity and traffic information is also provided so that passengers can better plan their routes and make adjustments accordingly. (Note: the next step would have been to conduct user testing of this design, but this wasn’t part of the scope of this project.)

For more detailed information about our design, please download this PDF.