User Research | Revamping the Miami Trolley

The Miami Trolley is a really fun & unique way to get around Miami, and the best part is …it’s free! I’m a Brickell girl and ask anyone who knows me, I never leave Brickell/Downtown unless I absolutely need to. However, this stretch of land deemed “Brickell/Downtown” is pretty big for a pedestrian that walks under this 100 degree Miami sun. So, I always want to hop on the trolley but I keep finding myself a bit flustered as to how to use it.

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The Miami Trolley has a mobile app that is “okay…”. It has all the basic functions a user would want but it isn’t very efficient, definitely not reliable, and most importantly confusing. I found my personal User Experience to be very poor, so I decided to revamp their app using all the tools I have learned at Ironhack.

The first thing I did was a Lean Map to figure out:

  • What do I need to know?
  • What do I already know?
  • Who do we need to learn from?
  • How do we reach these people?
  • And what do I put on my survey?
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Lean Map

I started to search for people on my social media accounts that use/want to use the Trolley & I also went to the trolley stops and asked people for their opinion. I gave them access to filling out my survey that I created using google forms. In addition, I interviewed people on the trolley and people who were trying to figure out how to use the trolley.

Once my results were in, I created an Affinity Map and started to Brainstorm.

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Affinity Map & Brainstorm Mind Map

After doing these maps & having talked to different people about their Trolley experiences, I started to get an idea of who my users would be. Surprisingly, I started finding myself alone on the Trolley with a bunch of old ladies. On my morning commutes on the Trolley, I’d find more young people who looked like they were heading for work. One guy I talked to said, “I use the Trolley to get to the Brickell Metromover to then get to work. It’s really great since it’s free but I don’t use the app because it’s a bit unreliable.”

I decided to narrow down my target audience to a younger crowd on a low budget that can use the trolley to get to work and/or around town. I created two personas to fit my user needs:

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For each persona, I created an Empathy Map:

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Now, I need to create my problem statement. The guide for creating a problem statement is “[User] needs a way to [Problem/Need] because [Insight].

A young student living in Miami needs a way to get to school because he lives too close to drive but too far to drive.

A low-budget employee needs a way to get to work because he can’t afford to own a car or take an uber.

I created a user journey map related to my young student persona, aka Lawrence. I focused my user journey on a daily occurrence that happens to Lawrence and how his day affects his mood. The final step in my user journey is his discovery of the Miami Trolley and how it could solve his problems related to transportation.

User Journey

In addition, I created a storyboard to better illustrate my user’s needs and frustrations. This helps tell the story as to why the Miami Trolley app needs to be improved upon.

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Now that I have a good sense of my user and their needs, I can start to ideate, ideate annnnd…ideate! I started to write down all my ideas on post-its and spread them out. I grouped them into similar thoughts and ideas. Something I found challenging about this process is that I am working on this project by myself. I do feel as though the ideating process is much better when done with a group because there’s an abundance of ideas and everyone begins to challenge each other. However, after ideating I was able to begin doing my initial sketches.


Something I’m discovering is that the current Miami Trolley app has about four pages that essentially do the same thing (Where am I?, Easy Tracker, Routes Tracker, My Stops). I used inspiration from transportation apps such as Uber and Taxi apps, where I realized that they really only have one essential page. So, in my sketches I consolidated everything into one main screen. This also ties into feedback I got from one user that he felt confused with the different pages and why it all couldn’t be put into one process.

This was made even more evident to me when I created my User Flow & Site Map. Seeing these maps shows me how simple I’ve created this app, but I think that should be the point. The Miami Trolley is a free and fun way to get around the city and it should be a simple process…nothing complicated about it!

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Site Map
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User Flow

This sums my week on User Research & Sketching. Next week I’ll share with you my journey through wireframing and prototyping!


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