LUAS Machine UX Evaluation
Assessing the usability and user experience of LUAS ticket machines
Do commonly used machines for public transport tickets and top-up provide a positive user experience?
Strategy & Planning
LUAS ticket machines are part of many people's daily routines. I worked with a team to assess the usability and user experience of these machines for members of the public.
Through observation, we were able to gain an understanding of the current problems with the ticket machines. We spent time at different LUAS stops around Dublin taking notes of interesting observations and situations.
We learned that around rush hour the machines are extremely slow and often cause people to miss their LUAS. The frequency of trams meant that people would usually only be waiting for a maximum of ten minutes, which we would need to keep in mind for interviews.
We carried out a thorough examination of the information architecture and user flows of the LUAS machines to create in depth task analyses. Two moderately complicated scenarios were chosen which we would be carrying out during the interviews.
Scenario A: You are a family of 2 adults and 2 children looking to travel one-way to Tallaght without leap cards.
Scenario B: You have a €5 note, your leap card is out of credit and you want to get on the next Luas.
Analysing the entire use flows of the machines provided insight into how many individual selections and screen inputs had to be made for what should be a simple task.
Interviews & Scenarios
To ensure that we had a clear agenda and our research would be consistent, we created a testing script. This script contained initial questions, two seperate use scenarios to be completed, and follow up questions. The entire interview needed to last less than ten minutes to ensure that nobody would miss their tram.
Eight usability tests were carried out with regular LUAS customers. Scenario A required a large amount of navigation through screens and could be easily cancelled, requiring the user to begin again. Scenario B was more open to interpretation, and interestingly enough, most participants chose a physical ticket over topping-up their leap card.
User journey maps were created for each participant. These were helpful in identifying common areas of difficulty and ease across all of the participants.
The journey maps outlined points in which participants would become confused and backtrack through the screens thinking they'd made a mistake. A map screen with a visual style inconsistent with the other screens was the primary point of difficulty for the majority of users.
Heuristic analyses were individually carried out on both scenarios to find any additional usability issues on a screen by screen basis, and combined as a group.
Combining the heuristic analysis of the scenarios with the information from user journey maps ensured a detailed assessment of the system.
There were no critical problems, but many major problems.
Consistent areas of confusion across many users.
Unclear visuals and needlessly complex processes throughout the system.
Speed and ease of use are below expected thresholds.
Scenario A :
- Destination menu accessible to all users: search function or stop by stop list.
- Quick option for multi-ticket purchases.
- Shorten processes and add shortcuts for expert users.
- Display a prompt when purchasing cross-line tickets.
- Implement a progress bar to show stages of the process.
Scenario B :
- Display Leap card help and information on the main menu.
- A clearer hierarchy to the payment page to improve clarity and reduce chances of accidental presses.
- Offer a warning before the machine times out.
- Modernise visuals and UI.
- Contactless payment option.
The LUAS ticket machines have extremely unintuitive and outdated software which leads to slow transaction times, confusion and missing trams. It was a common occurance for someone to miss their tram while waiting on their ticket to print. System timeouts would cause the machine to reset without warning if the user took to long to find their money or make another input.
There are a host of problems associated with these machines and I feel that we performed a thorough evaluation of usability and UX. The recommendations offer simple approaches to increase the experience and usability dramatically.