Ulan-Ude tram line map
Redesign a new map for Ulan-Ude tram line.
August - November, 2021
My role and responsibilities
UX and UI designer responsible for creating the line map from concept to delivery.
Responsibilities: conducting interviews, digital sketches, digital prototyping, conducting usability studies, delivering printable version of the product
Ulan-Ude is a small provincial city in Russian Siberia. The most convenient public transport here is local tram that has 6 lines (2 were added in October, 2021) covering the most popular areas of the city. It carries about 40000 people daily that makes annual passenger traffic between 12 and 15 millions.
With again increased popularity of this public transport, Department of Public Transport decided to add 2 more lines and old map had to be updated. Due to the poor design of the old map, it was very difficult to understand how to get from one place to another and which line to take. Moreover, some stations names were outdated and some new stops were added. So we decided to redesign map from scratch.
Old map looks like it was made without aim for the further extension of the tram system. It is not only impossible to integrate new lines in this map, but also it looks a little bit confusing giving passengers a tough time to figure out what goes where. Tram doesn't stop at some stations depends on the direction and map doesn't show that as well.
During user research, some passengers were shown the old map and given a task figuring our the destination from one station to another. As a result, 2 out of 10 passengers were able to get the route right.
UNDERSTANDING THE USER
In order to find the main pain points of the old map design, I decided to visit the city and interview passengers of different background - age group, gender, language skills and whether they were visitors or residents. So I decided to split users into 3 groups and create personas for each group:
1. Retired passengers and veterans aged 60+
2. Students (high school and college)
3. Visitors (don't have permanent residence in the city)
Drawback - I was quite excited to do user interview face to face but I forgot to take pictures during the interview, in the future it will be very necessary to take few shot of interview process for documentation.
Nataliya is a retired woman who doesn't like to use minibuses and prefers a tram to travel around the city on various matters. She doesn't use social media and not always following news about local tram changes. She and her husband often travel to hospitals for body check and use tram to do that, however after new lines were added, they didn't know if they could take them to the hospital - old map didn't show new routes. In addition, they are not very clear what tram station is close to what hospital, so it is very frustrating to ask people around.
Occupation: College student
Ayuna is a college student and local eco-activist. She chooses local tram as he main transportation to travel throughout the city. Due to her part-time job requirement, she needs to be mobile and travel to different parts of the city, luckily mostly all places have a tram station. However, she feels very confusing about some stations where certain trams don't stop and pass by. It makes her very annoyed and she needs to walk to the next station to catch the tram.
Occupation: School teacher
Mikhail teaches literature and Russian language outside of the city in a countryside and sometimes visits Ulan-Ude for shopping. He doesn't drive, so he prefers a tram to travel around the city. Provided minibuses in the city don't have a very clear information desk, it is very crucial for Mikhail to know how to hop on a tram from railway station or intercity bus terminal. Also old map doesn't explain that route 1 and route 2 are actually the same route, but one goes clockwise, another counter-clockwise - pretty much confusing.
PROBLEM DEFINITION & SOLUTION ITERATION
According to user research made using old map, there are lots of problems are needed to be solved while refurbishing the visual design of the map.
old map was hard to navigate the route, especially for loop lines
indicate the direction of the tram on each station using arrow
old map didn't show walking distance to major hospitals, intercity bus terminal and train station
count the time needed to walk from tram station to designated places and indicate them on the map
some tram lines don't stop on designated stations, old map didn't have any clarification about this issue
remove the station icon from the stations where certain line doesn't have a stop while others do
Ulan-Ude will be visited by foreign tourists after pandemic - however there are no English names of stations
add English names for all stations, keep transliteration rule so names will sound similar in Russian in case if foreigners while asking for directions locals would understand the meaning
FIRST VERSION OF THE MAP
Because Ulan-Ude tram system has some lines that are sharing the same routes, I decided to draw the inspiration from the state of art line map of NYC subway because it has the similar system. It fits repeating route segments very well and so far I don't have any other idea how to display shared segments on the map...yet.
Ulan-Ude tram system now runs 6 lines:
Lines 1 and 2 - share same route, but line 1 is clockwise and line 2 is counter-clockwise
Lines 7 and 8 - newly added routes, same as lines 1 and 2, line 7 is clockwise and line 8 is opposite.
I also suggested to give each line separate coloring not only on the map, but also on the number plate itself, so people would easily recognise the number from afar.
For typography I have chosen DIN Alternate Bold that has both Russian and English display.
Station names in Russian and English colors will be in two colors from the logo.
Old map had some navigation issues such as unclear direction of loop lines
SOLUTION: separate both directions of loop lines, put an arrow on station market that will indicate the direction of the line it's on.
Old map didn't have any markings of nearby hospitals, intercity bus terminal and main train station
SOLUTION: add a self-transfer indicator to 2 main hospitals (tram administration didn't want indicate all big hospitals for now), terminal bus station and main train station, add walking time to those places.
Old map didn't indicate that some trams lines skip certain stations in certain directions
SOLUTION: arrow on station mark does not only means that tram goes that direction, but also it stops that only in that direction, station marks without arrows mean trams stop in both directions, no station mark - tram skips the station.
Old map didn't have station names in English
SOLUTION: add English names for each station, preserve transliteration in order it will be easier for asking directions, i.e. station 'Мемориал Победы' in English mens 'Victory Memorial', however if you ask locals where 'Victory Memorial' is, most of them won't understand you, so the right way to translate it using transliteration, so it will sound similar to Russian language - 'Memorial Pobedy'
From the words of marketing team of tram administration, the map so far shows itself very useful and helps people to get used to new loop lines 7 and 8. Also, with the upgrade of tram park with newly made modern trams, this map visually fits the modernization of public transport in Ulan-Ude
If I will visit the city again in the nearest future, I will conduct another user research in order to figure out how I could make the map even better
Create an APP concept for local tram that will help users build routes, buy tickets and passes and explore the city
Support tram administration if there are new lines to be added in the future.
Thank you for your time reviewing my work on the Ulan-Ude tram line map!
If you’d like to see more or would like to get in touch, my contact information is provided below.