Ironhack’s Prework: Design Thinking_Challenge 1

We all face different challenges while using the public transport each day, but generally the payment options are a common problem for heavy technological users, since the administration hasn’t been yet digitalized.

Citymapper is a well-known app that allows users to know the most efficient way to reach their destination. It is already available in over 60 cities around the globe and it is very easy to use. Users don’t even need to register into the app to learn how to move across the city. One only needs to enter their starting point and their destination in the map, and the app will show a full list with all the available transports (both public transport — which include buses, metros, trams, etc — and private transports — taxi services, motosharing, etc.) and the duration of each transport route.

Challenge: To create a feature for this app that solves the pain of having to purchase different public transport tickets by different channels

Tools: Pen, Paper

Previous research

First of all, we needed to get some information about the use of transport of different users, to better understand and identify the problem we would be focusing on.

For the purpose of this research, we interviewed 5 different people from different backgrounds and different travel habits to understand their public transport routines — both in their cities and abroad-.

What is the problem we are trying to solve? Well, we not only need to develop a feature inside Citymapper, but we need to understand why this feature is so relevant for our users. We will understand the problem as the unavailability of digital solutions for the aggregated purchase of transport tickets.

The target of our solution will be those users who get bothered when commuting and need to pay for different transport tickers; or users that would prefer acquiring all their transport tickers directly through and app or online — which include people that are used to paying through their phones or make online payments and technology heavy-users-; or those users that only wish to know what ticker should be used for each transportation area or vehicle.

For the sake of this project, we will be focusing on the Spanish market, specifically in the biggest areas (such as Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza,..).

As far as we have researched, there is no online solution for this challenge. Instead of competition, we would rather highlight the term coopetition, since we would be needing to partner up with the local transport companies (such as TMB, AMB, Tuzsa,…) to improve their users’ experience.

All of our interviewed subjects complained about how analogous was their public transport experience. Thankfully for Gen Zers, the rise of motosharing services and other mobility platforms are changing this paradigm into a more digital and tech-savy routine. However, the Spanish public administrations have still a long way to compete with these alternatives in digital terms.

Nonetheless, a mid-term potential competitor would be Google Maps, under the event that they chose to show the different costs of the proposed routes. However, they currently only show routes available for buses, tramways, metro stations, trains, taxi services and cars -but haven’t yet added on their app the use of motosharing services or public bikes-.

  1. Lack of price information. There is no transparency in the cost of a route with the different transport choices one may have available (bus, motosharing, taxi, metro,…) either on Google Maps or the Spanish Citymapper.
  2. Need for help when abroad. When one goes abroad, they always have doubts regarding which transport ticket they should purchase, but the way they handle this situation may differ (asking to a person vs googling it). This already differenciates what kind of technological user they are and help us define whether they may be the target for our solution.
  3. Challenges post-covid. Topping up the transport card may be tough post-covid, due to the lack of available solutions. They have eliminated the chance of acquiring the ticket directly to the driver, and in many stations one can only pay with a credit card for the purchase of the ticket. There is generally not and online solution -although TMB, the Barcelona public transport company, is already encouraging the online purchase of tickets through their website-.

Main ideas

Although it may already be included in other versiones of the Citymapper app -or its analogous UrbanGo-, there is no availability of price information for the routes in the Spanish territory. Therefore, a first step would be to add this on the app, so that users make informed decisions based on transport speed and cost.

On the other hand, it would also be interesting to ideate an aggregated platform where you can directly buy the tickets for the different transport methods available in the city — for instance, Barcelona.

Both these options could also work when users go abroad, since they would make their decisions while knowing the cost of each route, and being able to purchase all their tickets through an app.

However, these ideas only cover public transportation -a.k.a buses, trains, tramways and metro-. But, what about the rest of the transports? It would also be interesting to incorporate all available transport companies under the same app, and being able to book your own motosharing service, your bike or your taxi service from the same app. This could work in two different ways:

  1. You could either generate a QR code for any transport and then show it when you need to get on (the bus, the taxi, the motorbike,..).
  2. Or, alternatively, integrating each app in Citymapper, so that when you book an Ecooltra, it works the same way whether you book it from Citymapper or from its own app.


We prototyped our main idea, but we didn’t refuse to add some of the features we also proposed after the ideation phase.

We started from the screen after the Initial Point and Destination Point have been selected in Citiymapper. On that screen, we added the pricing feature -currently unavailable in the Spanish app-, so that users could make informed decisions about their transport routes.

We then suggested an integration with third parties so that users could purchase directly through other apps, just by clicking on the desired transport.

In this case, we brought up 2 different scenarios:

  1. Using a motosharing service like Ecooltra or Muving. When you click the button on the Citymapper interface, they redirect you directly to Ecooltra app. Then, the user will have to sign in or create an account, and access the payment screen.
  2. Using the public administration webapp for purchasing tickets. The user will see all the different tickets available and choose the one that suits them better, paying for it anf afterward, they will have the chance to get it physically on any station or showing the QR Code -valid, for instance, to get on the bus).
Paper prototype of the pricing feature in Citymapper app
Paper prototype of the pricing feature in Citymapper app

Key Learnings

After carrying out my first UX/UI project, I realized it is extremely difficult not to let your own biases and judgements appear while carrying out the interviews and ideation process. The most challenging part for me, here onwards, is going to be to make unbiased decisions, and propose exactly what the user is telling you they need instead of preconceiving your own ideas.

Morever, it is critical not to forget any relevant screen or piece of information, so that anybody can understand the solution you are proposing with the minimum effort.

Young passionate proactive woman. Open mind and curious seeking to launch a social entrepreneurial project.