UX Design Sprint – CARTS Transportation

This project was for ARTC 5360L, UX Design with Grayson Lawrence. Using Jeff Gothelf’s Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience and IBM’s Design Thinking Field Guide the class tackled problems on CARTS rural transportation website. CARTS is a public bus transportation system that serves the rural areas surrounding Austin, TX. It helps connect people to the major transportation systems (Capital Metro and Greyhound) in Austin and San Marcos.
The result of this 2-day design sprint was a prototype of a website design. The goal was to think of ways to help CARTS attract new users and to posit some ideas for improving their site’s overall organization.


Online Interactive Prototype.

Pitch Deck: Long_CARTS_PitchDeck


Step 1: Hopes and Fears

Using a version of IBM Design Thinking’s “Hopes and Fears” exercise, the class scoured the CARTS website and found what works (smiley face column) and what doesn’t (sad face column).

Here is what the class found:

What works 🙂

You can bring your bike on board, On-Demand scheduling for Doctor or Shopping, Save $ on Gas, They have a good response time on Facebook, Covers 169 communities, Fast riding to destination, Protect the environment, Don’t need to find a parking space, Fast and on time, Don’t need to drive, Units stay busy, Connects with other services, Rides for under-served population (elderly, disabled, rural), Without service wouldn’t have transportation to doctors and grocery store, Can get from Southpark Meadows to Campus 35 minute/$6 round trip, ADA compliant, Partner services as alternatives/supplements, Recognizable brand and identity, Much needed service in rural areas, Stations are nice, Discount programs, Provides connectivity options.

What doesn’t work 😦

Stations are open different days and times, Website is overwhelming/too much information, No app or way to book online, Fare cards can only be purchased online and cannot be purchased at stations, Confusing pricing, No way of letting people know if they are running late, No backend routes, Long call and wait times, Confusing Bus #’s, Not mobile friendly, Mobile app: you have to click map to see route, Waiting long time/late, Complex process to ride, Main site not mobile friendly, Bus stops inconsistent/no info, Monday-Friday only, Too much information on the website, No search feature, Late, Am I gonna be by myself if a I schedule a Country Bus, Reservations by phone/prepaid cards online, Consistently inconsistent, What about Kyle community, Fares are confusing, Cannot control time well, Long wait for a bus, May not stop close to my destination, Not friendly to riders, Late, Never on time, Always delayed, Can I just see a “Start Here” and “End Here,” Late complaints, No weekends/holidays, Some bus stops lack seating, Site UX complicating and confusing, It’s all complicated to use fees and schedule, No online reservation system, Route labels are not ADA compliant, Confusing color-coding and number, Help/support is insufficient, Insufficient transportation vehicles, Confusing pricing, Can’t see where bus is–is it late? Did I miss it?, Do you also have to get passes with other transportation systems?

Step 2: Personas and Empathy Mapping

Out of the online research, the class identified 3 core users: working commuters, elderly non-drivers, and newbies/visitors. Using empathy mapping, Stephanie helped develop 3 personas: Professional Paul, Newbie Alexa, and Early Iris.

Professional Paul is a long-time user of CARTS. Paul thinks parking downtown stinks; feels like he should get a loyal customer discount; says “I need a ride on the weekend”; and does stay organized using his phone.

Newbie Alexa is new to town. Alexa thinks about where she wants to go; feels a little lost; says “Where is the bus stop?”; and does look for everything online.

Early Iris is getting up in years. Iris thinks about safety; feels worried the bus will forget her; says “How long will this take?”; and does have frequent doctor’s visits.

Step 3: Try and Buy

Scenario 1: Early Iris

Stephanie, from the perspective of Early Iris, attempted to go through the site to schedule a trip to a doctor’s visit. For this scenario, Stephanie assumed Early Iris would have first tried to call CARTS, and upon receiving an “Out of office” message would ask a son or daughter to do online research for her. This is where Early Iris’s son begins the process.

Iris’s son

  • Clicks on “Medical Transportation” button
  • Clicks on “See Schedule” button
  • Is redirected to informational page
  • Calls the number provided only to be met with “We are closed” message
  • Clicks on “HHSC Medical Transportation Program” link
  • Is redirected to outside site, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
  • Scrolls down to “Getting Rides”
  • Reads the instructions
  • Discovers that his mom must schedule this two full work days in advance

Scenario 2: Purchasing a Bus Pass

In another scenario, Stephanie went through the steps of purchasing a Fare Card.

  • Clicked on “Fares and Passes” tab
  • Scrolled to bottom of page and clicked on “Go to the Card Service Center” button
  • Clicked on “Purchase New Card”
  • Was met with a message that visitors should call first to make sure their area is serviced
  • Called number and was met with “We are closed” message
  • Proceeded through steps
  • Noticed there is no place to input email address
  • Paid fee and clicked submit
  • Discovered at end of transaction that it will take 7-10 business days to receive card
  • Received an attractive packet in mail about 5 days later
  • Not really sure how to use it

Step 4: Needs Statements

Based on research in steps 1-3, the class built Needs Statements for each persona.

Paul needs a way to get from home in Bastrop so that he can get to class by 10 am at Riverside ACC on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Alexa needs a way to explore San Marcos so that she knows what her options are for shopping, eating, studying and hanging with friends.

Iris needs a way to get from Bastrop to Heart Hospital so that she can make her once-per-week cardiac appointment with 2 business days advance.

Step 5: Prototype Sketches

From this point on, each participant chose a user for which to create a solution. Stephanie chose to create a more welcoming, less overwhelming online environment for Newbie Alexa.

Proposed Solution to Alexa’s “Needs Statement”

Stephanie’s idea is that hotels will purchase one day free passes from CARTS to give to guests at check-in. The Free Pass will be for one day of Interurban traveling. Guests can activate the card and using an “Easy Planner” quickly pick a place to eat based on suggestions generated by the CARTS website.

This system is a friendly introduction to the CARTS website, routes, and buses so that new users will feel less overwhelmed and more comfortable with the wide array of services offered.

Step 6: Paper Prototype

Stephanie created a sample “Free Pass” that Alexa will receive at check-in at her hotel. Using the information on the Free Pass, she then visits the CARTS website, activates the card, and then chooses a destination.

The purpose is to address the problem new visitors have with the overwhelming options and to create a sense of eagerness to use the bus system.

Step 7: User Testing

After a few brief user tests of the paper prototype, Stephanie built a few screens and loaded them into InvisionApp for online testing.

Step 8: Final Prototypes

Version 1 (after first round of user testing): https://invis.io/2VDYLQJ6B

Version 2 (after second round of user testing): https://invis.io/VDE8C42F8

Version 3 (after feedback from instructor and 1 more user test): https://invis.io/ENEA6TIF6


UX Design Sprint – Disaster Relief

This project was for ARTC 5360L, UX Design with Grayson Lawrence. Stephanie got a crash course in using Jake Knapp’s 5-day Sprint model. All five days were squeezed into one weekend as a way of introducing students to the process.

The result of this 2-day design sprint was a prototype of an app design. The idea was to help animal shelters connect to pet fosters during emergency weather or crisis.


1. Define the Problem (Assumptions and Research Validation)

The job was to design a system that would allow ordinary citizens to help in extraordinary ways during a natural disaster (such as Hurricane Harvey).

The Sprint questions were as follows:

What are the needs that are not usually met? Can we improve systems that already exist? Who are the people that need this? Who are the victims? What are the victims’ needs/what are the solutions they need? What are current solutions’ limitations and strengths? Obstacles to implementing a system?

 2. Card Sorting

Students spent an hour or so doing online research to answer the questions. Ideas/solutions/problems were written on sticky notes which were then sorted into categories (card sorting/affinity mapping).

Based on this exercise, the class sorted cards into an actual sentence statement that became the overarching Goal:

In order to improve and organize services, we will create systems for users to supply relief to victims of catastrophic disasters.

3. Goal Statement

Based on the overarching Goal, students selected the problem they wanted to solve for. Each student came up with a handful of problems and picked one to work on for class.

In order to reduce mortality rates due to disease after a natural disaster, I will create a system for improving supply distribution to help local charities supply medical supplies to low income areas via drones and floating shelters and volunteer networks.

Stephanie chose this goal: In order to reduce overcrowding of animal rescue shelters, I will create a system for organizing shelters to help each other supply foster homes to help owners who have surrendered their pets via social media/database.

In order to reduce the number of people who need rescue, I will create system for improving evacuation protocols to help individuals and first responders supply transportation to help evacuees via apps.

4. Crazy Eights

Students folded a paper into eight sections, and for 1 minute per section rapidly sketched out possible solutions (thus the name Crazy Eights!). Students presented ideas to the group and based on feedback, made a final decision about the system they wanted to create to address the problem.

5. Workflow

Students spent another hour or two sketching out workflow for their systems. This is the workflow for Stephanie’s Emergency Pet Foster App. Stephanie shifted somewhat from her original goal. She determined that the best way to reduce overcrowding in shelters was to pre-register foster families. Then Stephanie sought to create a communication system via an app that would help animal shelters filter incoming pets to these foster families.

Stephanie had 3 users in mind (Foster Families, Animal Shelters, and Pet Owners), and decided to focus on the Foster Family’s user experience: Signing up for app, agreeing to foster a certain number of pets, and responding to an emergency request for fostering.

6. Paper Prototype

Students sketched out paper prototypes for an initial user test. Sticky notes were used for pop-up screens.

7. User Testing, Round 1

Students paired up and tested each other’s paper prototypes. Each student had a list of tasks for their users, and a script that helped introduce and explain the process.

Stephanie’s tasks for User Testing were as follows: Register how many pets and what kind of pets you are willing to foster. How do you indicate to the shelter you will accept pets? How do you change how many pets you are willing to accept? How would you tell the shelter you are done accepting and cannot accept any more pets?

8. High Res Prototype

Based on feedback from the User Tests, students developed high resolution prototypes. Here are the screenshots for Stephanie’s app design. The focus was on workflow, not design or aesthetic. So please excuse the ugly!

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Interactive Prototype (InvisionApp)

Click here to explore the final prototype for this class!


UX/UI App Design

As part of an introductory User Experience (UX) course at Texas State University, Stephanie designed a few screens of an app she called “The Tool Box.” It was designed to be an app for neighbors to borrow and lend tools. The purpose of the assignment was to get a quick and dirty intro to UX/UI design, persona building, planning, and user testing.
Click here to view thumbnail sketches and roughs.