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HACKATHON WINNING PROJECT-City of Melbourne: Public Transportation Rewards Dashboard

This case study is about the hackathon winning project I participated in. This particular hackathon was organised by General Assembly and was in partnership with the City of Melbourne, inviting us to design a solution for the increasing problem of congestion, both vehicular and pedestrian in Melbourne CBD.

Thank You Melbourne is an app that rewards the Melbourne commuters with ‘coins’ when they walk, cycle and take public transport. The coins can be redeemed for local pleasures and funding local community projects that make Melbourne the most liveable city in the world.

Thank you Melbourne app dashboard
Thank You Melbourne desktop app dashboard

Client: The City of Melbourne

Timeframe: 2.5 days (11th – 13th October 2017)

Team members :

  • UXers: Inyoung, Jake, Rachel, Salma
  • Devs: Hsing and Fiona
  • Data Analyst: Vicki

My role

As a UX designer, I involved in every step of the process except data analysis and developing the prototype. I scheduled tasks and timing to start with and was keep checking on it to meet the high standard outcome.

Design Journey

1   Discovery

2   Define and Ideation

3   Design

4    Pitching


The first day, there was the brief about the hackathon and the design problem and the choice of topics were given. The topics are “The​ ​future​ ​of​ ​on-street​ ​parking​”, “Pedestrian​ ​congestion” and “Behaviour​ ​change​ ​on​ ​modes​ ​of​ ​transport”. My team chose the last one.

This ​theme​ ​is​ ​about​ ​exploring​ ​how​ ​we might​ ​create​ ​effective​ ​and​ ​permanent​ ​behaviour​ ​change​ ​around​ ​transportation​ ​modes; from​ ​driving​ ​to​ ​cycling​ ​or​ ​public​ ​transport,​ ​or​ ​other​ ​alternatives.​ Later on we realise that this theme touches all the other topics indeed.

Here is the challenge: behavioural change which is against the nature of human being.

It was late afternoon and we had our first team meeting, talking about what we can do for such a limited time. Vicki started to analyse any helpful data online and the rest of us got started on building a Topic Map that would inform the questions we would be asking via surveys and face-to-face interviews.

We came out with the questions according to the topic map. We set an ideal target audience of Melbournians who travel frequently to the city for work or education. The questions were aimed at understanding which transport modes they used, what their typical commute looked like, and what factors influence them choosing certain modes of transport over others. We also wanted to find out if there were any modes they would never consider using and the reason. We tried to have a mixture of questions aimed at uncovering user behaviour as well as attitudes. We ran the survey through every possible social media for the overnight.

Click here to check out the survey questions and the result

topic map

Topic Map

Design Explorations

The City of Melbourne’s Transport Strategy and Melbourne Data really helped us to get a grasp of the current situation. We ensured that we weren’t duplicating effort, and could design a solution that would align with their current strategy. There was no restriction at all so we could come up with a long term futuristic solution like subway, drone cargo delivery even drone vehicle. Although, I decided to hold the thought.

One of the main issues that contributed to congestion and pollution was commuter cars with a single occupant. If we could have any impact on diverting even a small proportion of those commuters to public transport, walking, or cycling, we’d be doing something good.

The analysis led to a reframing of the initial problem statement to a simpler one:

How do we get people to stop choosing to drive to and from work?

Space footprint per commuter diagram

Space footprint per commuter

Affinity mapping

The results were interesting (they always are for a UXer).

We stuck our responses from the surveys and interviews on the wall and mapped them into themes, what we call affinity mapping. Not only does it look impressive, but it also helps us see patterns and validate any hypotheses.

The main insights were that most people just want to get from A to B as quickly and conveniently as possible. They care less about cost, social/environmental impact or comfort.

We also were able to put people into three rough categories of commuter:

  • Those who will only drive;
  • Those who will only walk, cycle or use public transport;
  • Those who have access to multi modes of transport and will choose whatever is most convenient on the day.

The people who only ever drove to work did so because they lived further away, lacked practical access to stations, tram stops, or bikes. This seemed like a problem calling for an infrastructural solution. The last group, the multi-modal travellers were the most interesting to us – they already had access to more sustainable travel options but opted out of it. They would be the people we could most likely creatively influence away from driving.

Affinity Map City of Melbourne
Affinity Map and Ideation

Meet Millie, our persona

We used the responses from the survey and face-to-face interviews to build our persona, Millie. Millie is young, professional, and lives in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. She has access to trains and trams, owns a bike, but still opts to drive to work most days. She cares about getting to work as quickly and as efficiently as possible. She says she cares about the environment and sustainability (and most likely does care), but she’s not really willing to go too far out of her way to change her habits to benefit those causes. I think we all know someone like Millie.

Armed with the insights from our research and with a persona, we updated our problem statement:

“How can we get someone like Millie to consider how her transport choices impact her city, and ultimately choose an alternative to driving as her default?”

We brainstormed a couple of ideas and we zeroed in on the notion of somehow incentivising people like Millie to use public transport through ‘rewards’ on their Myki card. Think Flybuys meets Myki. The team was split at this point, we didn’t all agree immediately that this was the right way to go, but with the clock ticking, we agreed to run a Design Studio session to ideate a little more.

Given our new focus question for Millie, I also did some additional research into habit-changing apps such as MyFitnessPal and Headspace. We were trying to figure out what they did so well to be able to influence so many millions of users to tangibly change their behaviour every day.


Ideation and Design

Design Studio

A Design Studio Exercise is a rapid ideation process. Give all team members (cross-departmental teams are encouraged) a short window of time to sketch any and all ideas related to a brief or concept. No ideas are bad ideas, and each team member will have a chance to present and defend their ideas. Generally, the second round of sketching will take place to combine or converge on ideas presented in the first round.

We got to work ideating around the concept of monetary incentives and or habit-building features that will encourage more Myki card usage.

5 ideas in 5 minutes!

I’ll list a few:

  • Linking up with your pedometer or tracker on your bicycle to reward walking or cycling as well;
  • Metro pays you more coins when trains are delayed or cancelled;
  • Bonus points for taking public transport when the weather is bad;
  • Rewards you ‘coins’ which you can redeem to fund local community projects;
  • Tracks your carbon emissions (e.g. “By taking the train you saved the city of Melbourne X amount of carbon output”);
  • Gamifies your choices, rewards you bonus points for weekly or monthly streaks;
  • Compares your travel choices to your friends, coworkers, or neighbours – “Which suburb is the most sustainable?”

There were a lot more ideas that I simply can’t recall right now, but many of the ideas that came out of this experiment got incorporated into the high fidelity screens.

The Solution Statement

Content strategy

Thank You Melbourne was the name we used for the application. It’s not perfect – and it was definitely just a working name for the sake of the two-day project.

Rachel and Salma got started on the content strategy that would inform both the text on the screens, as well as the pitch. We used a Brand Deck to set some guidelines for the language we wanted to use.

Thank You Melbourne’s brand would be:

  • Optimistic
  • Savvy
  • Playful
  • Emotional
  • Sincere
  • Everyday

We borrowed a process called Storyshowing to craft a compelling narrative for our pitch. We roughly based it on the following structure:

  • This is what happened to me.
  • Has this happened to you?
  • This is what we learnt.
  • Let me show you.
  • What’s in it for you.

High fidelity screens and prototype

Jake and I put together the high fidelity screens for the app and worked with Hsing and Fiona to get it functioning as a prototype. Rachel and Salma worked on the content and wording within the app, informed by the content strategy we worked on earlier.

Thank you Melbourne app dashboard    Thank you Melbourne app dashboard activity

Thank You Melbourne desktop app dashboard

The pitch

Since we only had 5 minutes to pitch, we picked Rachel and Jake to be our primary speakers. The rest of us would answer the questions.

The pitch was received really well, and we had a few interesting questions, one was around the reverse-psychology of the emissions knowledge (“what if my contributions are so small that I just give up altogether?”) and another around the types of projects that might be funded by the app.

THANK YOU MELBOURNE PITCH SLIDEFlick through the pitch slides