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Of Men and Routes - Expectations Must Be Met!

Trafi.lt provides a nice routing app for public transport in several countries. I have used it in Vilnius, Lithuania and have been kinda happy with it. It tells me how to get to places, which is the main point. But recently I ran into a problem that I didn't expect.

The Problem

When I am looking for route information, there are two main things: how and when. Trafi provides the how quite well, but the when...

Here is an example of a route search on the iOS app:

(For those that don't speak Lithuanian, "Po 12 min" means "after 12 minutes" and "trukmÄ—" is "duration")

So, what can we assume from this screen? It says "after 12 minutes" and "duration 31 minutes." So, I assume that since it's 8:48 now, I will leave in 12 minutes and will arrive in 31 minutes. Right? I would think that's the basic assumption.

But no. When you check the next screen, you will see that this expectation is completely wrong:

So, I should actually leave in two minutes to make that bus. And the bus leaves the stop in 12 minutes. Oh. And I will actually arrive in 33 minutes from this moment, or 20 minutes from the time the bus leaves. Confusing? Totally.

Do note that the first page doesn't even say where the bus will be in 12 minutes. All those routes are from different stops, some of which are completely in different directions. So I can't just start walking somewhere and take some stop. I have to know where to go.

How to Fix It

The easiest way to fix this is to meet the expectations. I expect the app to tell me when to leave, where to go and when I will arrive. It fails on all accounts on the first screen. It doesn't say when I have to leave. It doesn't say when I will arrive. It only says when a bus will be somewhere and how long it will take to get to my destination after I leave, at an unknown time.

So the first screen should tell me this:

  • when should I leave my current location
  • where should I go
  • what transport device should I take
  • at what time I shall arrive at destination
  • how long is the walk to the stop
  • when will thetransport device be at the stop
  • duration of the trip

So in this example, the information would be: leave in 2 minutes, take the 12 trolleybus at Minties st. 871m away in 12 minutes and you will arrive 31 minutes later, at 9:21.

I know it is not easy to design user interfaces and too much information is too much, so it can always be prioritized. The minimal information would be: leave in two minutes, take the 12 trolleybus at Minties st. and you will arrive at 9:21. This would easily fit into the screen without any issues since it already has the time information, just the less important ones.

Here is an example of the important information given to the user immediately:

The duration of the trip can be calculated from the information given, so it doesn't need to be there explicitly. Usually it is more important to know when you arrive than the time used for the trip. This way the user can also immediately mentally check where they have to walk and they know exactly how much time they have until they have to leave.

I will of course send this enhancement proposal to Trafi also and hope they will implement some kind of better list to help people get the information they need.

And if, for some strange reason, other people actually don't care what stop they have to go to or when they have to leave, I'd like to hear about that too.

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