In today’s life we thrive solely on the products, services and various facilities that are available to us thanks to technology and development. We should be thankful for all the inventions and amenities that we have with us today; yet we manage to find flaws and limitations at some point or the other with each of these. When things are not the way we wanted, we often experience inconvenience and express displeasure at the slightest of the interruptions that come in way of our comfort and luxury.Right from the time we wake up in the morning till we go to the bed, we come across numerous products like toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo bottles, cars, refrigerators, television sets, air conditioners, washing machines, microwave ovens etc. Each product can be enhanced for the better such that it will help the user. We might not feel the need of up gradation in all the routine products as we have adjusted ourselves and are accustomed to using them. But as a User Experience designer, I have felt the need of UX designing in so many of our daily life products and services.
User experience is the emotional experience that the customers go through in the process of their interaction with company via its website, products, services, applications or any online communication. While some people might perceive that UX designing is limited to websites and mobile applications, I firmly believe that it has a much wider scope beside this. I strongly believe that, good User experience design needs to be ingrained in each and everything we use in our day to day life. In order to wipe out or at least minimize the pain points of the customers, user experience of all should be enhanced. As a resident of Mumbai, my day starts with commuting to my workplace. We all know the big city runs on Wheels; I mean The Local Train, which is the means of transport for the majority here. It is an integral part of the Mumbaikars’ daily life and there are a lot of problems that the commuters have to face in the run. I thought of glancing through all the usability issues that we face during travel and on the platforms. The experience of the users while travelling brings in a lot of issues. Some of the issues have been listed below:
- Uncontrolled and Unorganized Rush- The unorganized mob that scatters and creates chaos can be dealt with dividers at right places, like on the platforms or bridges. The public runs away haphazardly, as there is no systematic routing design directing the people to and fro in an orderly manner. There should be dividers and indications specifying directions.
- Booking Window-The ticket booking counter is extremely mismanaged. The narrow structured counters are scarcely adequate to accommodate two queues at a time. The hustle and bustle at ticket windows can be managed by increasing the number of windows.
a. There is no communication prior closing the window at the counters. The people awaiting their turns are all of a sudden informed that the counter has closed. Then at once the line breaks, creating more chaos and haywire as people run here and there. Lack of organization, system and arrangements can be filled up by giving the people prior indication about the
- Train Schedule Indicators: A lot of problems have been experienced by the public with regards to the train schedule indicators. Most of the indicators don’t function accurately and display wrong information at times. Special attention needs to be paid towards the display of such information and ensure that the correct information is displayed.
- Detailed Indicators-The detailed indicators at the platforms are placed on one end of the platform and even more, they are missing on most of the platforms. It is only visible to people in that part of the platform, for the rest, the view is out of sight. The quick view indicators placed at shorter distances on the platforms should be accompanied by the detailed indicators.
- Support Handles-The handles in the compartments are too high, especially for the females. It should be made easily reachable to all the travelers. The height of the handles should be lowered.
- Gap between the Platform and Train: The gap between the station platform and train door is inconsistent. Sometimes the gap is much and it bears a risk of accident. The need arises to maintain uniform gaps at all platforms.
- Bridges: Some bridges are too narrow to accommodate the crowd. It is vital to maintain consistency with respect to area all over the bridge. Adequate room to manage the crowd should be facilitated with an aim to avoid rush and disorder.
- Track Area: The Track area should always be free from crowd. People should be prohibited to enter the track field as this gives rise to many accidents and hazards.
- Unclear and Late Announcements- The announcements should be clearly audible to public on the platform. Untimely announcements create great hassle and give rise to the crowd flooding together. To keep people well informed on time is the fix to the issue.
- Cleanliness- Yet another evil experience the travelers have is with the unhygienic conditions on the station. It is a necessity to maintain proper bins and to ensure that the garbage be managed properly. Timely Cleaning of the premises should be taken care of.
- Door Handles – The door handles of the train are placed faultily and they cause a lot of inconvenience while travelling. Right type of handles should be arranged and placed at the proper positions.
- Uncomfortable Seating- The seats in the train are uncomfortable and can be made better. The seating should be improvised with a better design and style. Such that the travelers can be well seated, comfortably.
- Shelves -The shelves to keep baggage are positioned too high in the compartment. It should be easily reachable to the people so that everyone can easily reach and place their belongings over there.
- Coach Position Indicators: Boards and signage indicating coach positions of the train arriving, in case of local trains the 1st class/ 2nd class/ ladies compartments’ positions etc should be implicit. The indicators should be visible and lucid.
These are some of the most common problems that the users face daily while commuting via the local trains. It is a major usability issue that persists and needs to be solved. The travel experience can be made much better by eliminating these difficulties faced by the user. Sometimes I think that I am so involved and engrossed in pointing out usability issues in each and everything that I come across in life; may be the restaurant I go to on a weekend, or the ATM machine, the movie theatre or my television set at home. I tend to act more like a film critic who cannot just enjoy the movie with popcorn and ice cream but is busy scrutinizing the movie and checking for flaws. In a way it is good that I keep looking at things around me and find solutions to issues. This adds on to my domain knowledge and expertise. I learn more and get to know more about the psychology of the users. At times I forget to relish on thoughtlessly and enjoy, that’s because I am busy exploring my field as much as possible and wherever possible. This attitude that I have got hold of, in a way helps me in gaining proficiency and keeping myself focused to my work.