NYC MTA Trip Planner: Does It Work Okay?

I am so frustrated about NYC transportation system. One of many things that bother me is the MTA Trip Planner Installation on the platforms. It looks like this.

NYC Interactive Train Schedule

Since I’m taking Visual Language class, I tried to redesign its interface. But then I realized that I needed to do some observations before redesigning it. I was wondering if people could actually used it, if people were not frustrated enough like I did, even if people would notice it. So, I did my observation in Time Square station (I thought this station was one of the busiest station, didn’t know if it was true though). I observed and recorded it for about 45 minutes.

I think it’s interesting to observe this MTA Trip Planner Installation. Based on Chris Crawford definition of interactivity, and what I understood about it (you can look it up on my previous blog about interactivity here), It’s considered as an interactive installation which people can plan their trip around NYC. The more people interact with it, the more people can get information. This gives you the interactivity, because you (or the user) communicate with this installation. You are triggered to do something, you think, then you do the action. And, the interaction is not the same over time.

Before I did my observation, my assumptions were:

So, here’s the short version of my observation.

I got some insights from doing this observation directly.

From this observation and after I read the first chapter of Design of Everyday Things and Emotional Design by Don Norman, I noticed that its functionality is actually good enough, but the design doesn’t support it. It wasn’t well designed so it doesn’t attract people to use it. Yes, it might solve users problems who seek for train information, but it’s not intuitive and engaging. The usability and the aesthetics are not balanced.

Then I tried to explore it. I noticed that it was lack of call to action (CTA). I didn’t know where to touch. Yes I tried to touch everything in it, and surprisingly it showed me another screens. Here’s an example.

Next Train Schedule

I didn’t know if the route alphabet (N, Q, W, R) could be touched until I randomly touched it. Then it gave me this screen.

Route Information

As a UX designer, I realize that this installation is very useful. But first of all, people need to recognize it. And talking about the user interface, there are so many things that can be redesigned. The most important thing is how people can be attracted to it. I hope I can work on it in the future (sure, if I had more free time).

Product Designer/Creative Technologist who likes pumpkin pie.

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