User experience of purchasing a subway ticket

No, I am not talking about purchasing a ticket of the subway in Hong Kong, as you know the system and the vending machines here are really among the best in the world. Instead, I would like to share with you from the experience I had in the Washington DC trip last month.

In fact, I am not the only one get frustrated by the subway ticketing system (they call it “Metro”), there is even a presentation prepared on why there is a need to redesign the Metro ticket vending machine. Following is a picture of the vending machine and according to the official site of Metro, you need to follow these steps to purchase a ticket (they call it farecard):

To buy farecard, you need to:

  1. Select B (single farecard) or C (multiple farecards). If buying more than one, select the quantity you want.
  2. Use the (+) or (-) button to choose the value.
  3. Press C to view your selection.
  4. Press C again to confirm your selection.
  5. Insert money and/or farecard.

Please note that the buttons “A”, “B”, “C” are the tiny buttons next to the big orange color circle labeled “1”. In fact before step 1, you need to search around the ticketing lobby to find the up-to-date map / poster for the correct fare, also check the time as the fare is based on the time of day (!!) and destination.

And for step 2, instead of key in the fare amount (the vending machine is not that smart …), you have to use the (+) and (-) buttons to choose the dollars AND the cents – yes there are two (+) buttons and two (-) buttons underneath the tiny screen in the middle, one for the dollar amount and one for cent amount.

And can you see how confusing of step 5 ? In summary, very very poor user interface and therefore user experience of just buying a cheap subway ticket !!

And talking about User Experience, how can you miss the UX Conference in Hong Kong (UXHK) early next year ? Check out the office site – www.uxhongkong.com for details and register now. Great stuff !!

[flickrvideo]http://www.flickr.com/photos/szuc/4726544193/[/flickrvideo]

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Author: Michael Yung

Michael possessed over 30 years of experience in Information Technology with focuses on complex application development, database technologies and IT strategy. He also spent the last 20 years in Internet technology, eCommerce development / operations, web usability, computer security and Public Key Infrastructure technologies.

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