Over the course of the summer of 2014, I participated in the first cohort of the Real Fellowship, a 10 week full-time initiative organized by Real Ventures in Montreal. The seven of us each worked with a different Montreal start-up (for me, Transit App), as well as attended workshops and talks with start-up founders and industry pros, like Lean Analytics author Alistair Croll and entrepreneur extraordinaire Austin Hill. You can read more about my time in the Fellowship on Medium.
Transit App is an iOS and Android app that assembles transit information into one app, with live transit schedules and a trip planner. The app is built by a small, urbanism-obsessed team in Montreal.
I joined for the duration of the Real Fellowship to work with the team on a few projects:
Based on a loose idea from the Transit team, I set out to design a screen that would contain the same transit data that the app displays. This would be limited to the routes closest to that physical location, as well as relevant information such as bike sharing and car sharing.
The design uses a series of 'widgets' that could be customized depending on the location, bus/subway/train route, bike sharing, car sharing, weather, transit alerts, etc. Two more widgets could be added, for example, if car sharing services were not available in the area.
I quickly began to see the challenges involved in designing for not just one transit system, but dozens and dozens around the world, each one riddled with unique problems and details. Details like the trip headsign, which tells the passenger where the route’s destination is. Some are quite simple, like the 46 bus in Montreal, which goes Est (East) or Ouest (West), and has one final destination for each direction. For these cases, the simple route widget could be used:
Others are more complicated, like the 501 Queen Westbound streetcar in Toronto, which has numerous different route destinations along the same line. 501 Queen towards Long Branch. 501 Queen towards Humber. 501 Queen towards Roncesvalles. It’s important for a passenger to know which one specifically is arriving soonest. The simple route widget wouldn't work in this case, because the transit rider wouldn't be able to see the head sign of the second and third arrival times.
In the cases where a route has multiple head signs (501 Queen towards Long Branch, 501 Queen towards Humber) we would use the widget below:
The screen draws on the same visual style of Transit App, which uses the same colours for routes as designed by the particular transit system. As a commuter-centric app, this is important for helping the rider find their route quickly, as with some systems, riders recognize the colour of the route more than the route name itself.
In addition to Transit Screen, I worked on some mock-ups for an About page to put (seven) faces to the Transit App name. I felt the timeline was especially important to showcase how far the team has come in just two years and the milestones they've reached, which a visitor would otherwise have to do quite a bit of digging to discover.
You can view a live version of the About page created by Sam, CEO/Co-Founder/Designer of Transit - his addition of the team members' faces to the timeline is particular fun!