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Posts Tagged ‘skånetrafiken’

Skånetrafiken 2 – Usability and user testing

February 19, 2010 2 comments

I have written before about the Skånetrafiken vending machines for the trains in my region. Skånetrafiken recently launched a completely new system for buying tickets and using a new type of RFID cards for payments, called Jojo cards. The neat thing with these, is that they dont require the card to be put into the machine, but instead just require cards to get close to the reader. This way you dont need to pick the card from your wallet when using it. Thats neat.

With this nice solution comes new machines for reading the cards, which are installed in all the buses, as well as some other type of machine for buying train tickets. I have seen the latter in two forms, and havent looked into the difference yet. What I do know, is that one accepts cash while the other is only for Jojo cards. I just had to try one of these out when I saw it at the station and I had some time spending waiting for the train.

Exploring the machine, I immediately discovered some flaws with user-friendliness and strange workflow. Touchscreen being too resistant to touching and too little information in each screen was things that I noticed.
One of the strange workflows parts is the fact that if you want to pay with Jojo card, you are first required to register it, choose your way of travelling, and then register card again. Somehow as a user this is a very annoying workflow having to raise your hand with the card twice, and I couldnt seem to find out why they wanted to do this. You could imagine that they want to see the amount of money on the card to see if you could afford the trip, but this was not the case since my card only had time period credits for unlimited use, but no money credits to buy special trips. When registering the card the second time, the machine just stated not enough money credit, and cancelled my search. This resulted in some frustration having spent time on the search, but abruptly cancelled by the machine. The possibility to use my credit card for the searched trip was something that I had to choose as the first option before I could even search and see the price for the trip.

I remembered reading in the local newspaper about Skånetrafiken stating that “Well, its always like that, people just need to get use to the system, they will soon enough.”

After playing with the machine some more, finding more of this type of “bugs”, a girl came up and wanted to buy a ticket so I moved away. Watching this girl get more and more frustrated with the machine for about a minute, she turned to me and asked me for help buying a ticket. She just wanted to buy a youth ticket to Helsingborg from the closest station Maria station where we were situated. The thing is that Helsingborg is one of the really big towns in my region, and should be one of those “quick buy options” (shortcuts), especially if you are travelling from Maria, which is a of part of Helsingborg town. When looking at the shortcuts on the home screen, I realized that all of them went to reasonably big towns in the region, but were all predefined for adult ticket prices. Then what should a person do to buy a youth ticket? You have to keep in mind that youth ticket prices apply to any person in the region under the age of 20, which applies to quite many people travelling by train.

The option “other towns” on the home screen shows about 20 more options of destinations in the region, but since the 6 biggest ones were on the frontpage, they are not shown in this screen either. The biggest difference from the home screen is that these destinations dont come with the predefines adult price. But since we wanted a youth ticket to one of the destinations on the home screen, we did not find our solution on the second page either.

Well, after that I had two options to try, the “Map” to use and find the destination there, which included zooming in multiple steps before the destination appeared on the map as a button.

So, how about some use cases with personas to discover these issues at an early stage of development? I mean, youth ticket is most probably a common used ticket.

More flaws on the user interface of the machines can be found at http://www.skanetrafikensuger.se/.  I recall many of them being issues that could have been avoided with proper testing actually. Since I dont know if they are going to remove it soon, here quoted in swedish:

Därför suger de nya biljettautomaterna

  • Touchskärm
  • Ingen maskin har knappar som låter “ding” när man trycker på dem. Vilket spånhuvud har skakat fram det gamla ding-ljudet från Windoze 3.1 och stoppat in i maskinen. Rätt ljud för audioell feedback är givetvis ett kort och koncist “dutt”.
  • Touchskärmen sitter så långt bakom glaset att det endast går att trycka på en “knapp” på skärmen om man är pygmé och tittar på skärmen rakt framifrån. Vi andra normallånga måste trycka 2cm under önskad “knapp”.
  • Vansinnigt segt GUI. Inte ens ett litet inbyggt system är så slött, detta körs under Windoze på (industri?)-PC!
  • Gränssnittet är en kognitiv katastrof. Inte ens en ingenjör kan göra ett sådant ointutivt gränssnitt.
  • Omöjligt att få ut tidsstämplat kvitto för resegaranti, måste därmed ha tillgång till kopiator för att ansöka om resegaranti.
  • Omöjligt att få ut ett nytt papperskvitto på köpt biljett. Användbart när automaten på bussen har slut på papper. Som en extra teaser ser man biljetten på skärmen.
  • Måste hålla upp JoJo-kortet två gånger mot läsaren vid köp. Var gör man föresten av kortet under köpet? Obegripligt!
  • Skärmsidan där man väljer antal vuxna/barn/hundar/katter vid biljettköp har två knappar med snarlikt namn, en “Nästa” och en “Fortsätt”. Obegripligt innan man tryckt fel en gång.
  • Inmatning från knappsatsen för kod till konto/kreditkort kort segar efter.
  • Kortläsaren för konto/kreditkort är värdelös. Går inte att hantera med stora fingrar eller vantar på händerna. Verkar dessutom rätt okänslig, ibland får man stoppa i och ur kortet mer än en gång. Ointutiv att man ska stoppa i och dra ur kortet.
  • Varför den svarta skärmsläckaren med den röda ringen?
  • Maskinen får spel och står och låter ding-ding-ding om man lämnar den i fred en stund.
  • Det ointuitiva och sega användargränssnittet resulterar i att biljettköp tar långt mycket längre tid än med de gamla automaterna. Dessa, ska tilläggas, var heller inte direkt användarvänliga.

Inte många rätt med andra ord… Faktum är att jag ansträngt mig för att komma på en enda bra grej med de nya automaterna men inte lyckats. Fast det spelar ju ingen roll, enligt Skånetrafiken är det ju kunderna som är ovana och inte begriper något.

Har du fler anledningar? Tveka inte att maila mig påph@skanetrafikensuger.se.

What business rule is the most important? For whom, and when?

September 29, 2009 2 comments

This morning I was in a hurry. Not only did I have to get to my train on time, I also had to refill my train pass with another 30 days, before I got on the train. And of course I wasn’t the only one in the same situation when I came to the ticket office, so I had to wait for my turn.

As always when facing these kind of obstacles in my way, the natural thing for me is to find a better solution. This time I had to get a quicker way to refill my card. Looking at the small vending machine, where you normally buy ordinary tickets for a cheaper price with a card filled with money, I saw a sticker that I have never seen before. Apparently they upgraded the machine to be able to refill my kind of card as well with credit cards. YAYE! The last time I remember this machine getting an upgrade was when you started to be able to refill the money cards with money from credit cards.

So, happy with my new knowledge, I followed the instructions for refilling.
“Press refill”
“Swipe credit card”
“Insert train card”
Observing the fact that the machine understands what kind of card it is
“Press Ticket”
WÄHHH!
*Machine spits out card*
“Your purchase exceeds 850 kr” (Yes, of course it does, this card costs 1060 kr.)

Not so happy anymore, I have to try it again, to see if it was actually happening what I saw.

I start to think about how this could happen in an upgrade of software. From before when these machines were new, you were only able to buy tickets for a train ride. You could buy family tickets etc, but the fact is that a regular one-way/one-person ticket never exceeded 78 kr (or something), which used to be the maximum price for in-region travel, pretty much did not get you above 850 kr. One question would be, when did they put this limit? Was it when they started to take credit cards, or was it in there from the beginning, not allowing you to use the refill cards for more than the limit?

Some other relevant questions would be:
Who decided on the limit 850 kr? Legal issue?
And why this amount?
Wouldn’t it have been easier to have 1000? This would of course also have been a wrong amount for my monthly card, but at least it would have made sense as a maximum value.

Then we got the business value when they realized that the customers could refill their monthly cards in these machines. The cost of having employed people doing this must be soo much higher than doing the development for upgrading the machines. But did it cost too much to test it properly? Did noone even consider old business rules (ex 850 kr limit) as a risk when implementing new business rules for the refills?

I returned to another machine to take a photo of it later today. Since I was not in the same hurry, I realized the sign above it stating the obvious bug as a technical malfunction. But the thing is that this sign was not present at the first machine where I was this morning. If I would have seen it this morning, I would probably not have gotten frustrated like I did.

So I guess they realized the bug in production by the customers, but they could have the documentation for the bug at all machines. Like the company needs worse reputation than they already have.