Gabrielle de Mello
6 min readJun 8, 2020


Ironhack’s Prework: Citymapper-Design Thinking_Challenge1.

I still remember that a not long time ago, I had to carry a physical map with me while travelling. Get public transport in an unknown city where I didn’t speak the language? Forget it! It was so frustrating.

Imagine having an app where you can check the map, find the best way to get from point A and point B. Great, this already exists. Now, imagine if this app allowed you to purchase your public transport tickets without redirecting you to 100 different websites, with 100 different payment methods. This could be life-changing, isn’t it?

Project Overview

City mapper is a free public transport and mapping service that is available in 42 different cities around the globe.

Project development of a feature that allows users to purchase public transportation tickets through Citymapper application.

Following the Design Thinking methodology:


In order to understand the users, their experiences and struggles. I started with mapping who would be my target group for this project.

  • Young and Mid-Age: 15–50
  • People that travel
  • Newbies in a city

I also had to understand which difficulties we were facing, our benchmarks, competitors and the tone that we would like to pass. Cities can be difficult sometimes, and the plan is to make this easier and simpler for users.

There is plenty of different apps out there doing similar, but what can make Citymapper stands out? Why would someone choose Citymapper instead of any other competitor like Google Maps or Waze? How can Citymapper integrates and add value to people’s lives? One thing is certain, Citymapper had to reach user goals.

As part of the process, I drove 5 interviews with people from different backgrounds, between the age of 15–45 that liked to travel or lived in different cities.


  • How often do you use a public transportation app?
  • Which public transportation app do you usually use?
  • Do you find easy to purchase public transport tickets while abroad?
  • What is your favourite method to purchase tickets? (online, machine or vendor)
  • How public transportations apps could improve?
  • Would you trust in a 3rd party app to purchase tickets?


One of the biggest issues encountered was that people usually don’t understand public transport system abroad which leads them to a bigger problem: how to purchase tickets without having a frustrating experience?

Interview Evaluation:

  • Users tend to use public transport applications 3 times a week, but those numbers increase while abroad;
  • Users often use Google Maps or Apple Maps;
  • People often struggle to understand public transport systems and how they work in unknown cities;
  • Three out of the five people interviewed said that they prefer to purchase tickets online. It was interesting to see that those three were on their 20’s, while the other two that were on their early 40’s answered that they prefer to purchase tickets through the vending machine;
  • People tend to avoid vendors for two reasons: big queues and idiom difficulty;
  • The interviewers also said that public transportation apps could track delays and issues on the way;
  • Public transportation apps could be connected to the cities public transportation websites and allow people to purchase tickets easily;
  • Users would be happy to have a trustworthy 3rd app that helps them to purchase tickets.

Apart from the interview evaluation, I also created an Empathy map to help me to examine how the customers feel, think, say and do and get to understand what’s their pain and goals.

To better help on my definition process, I worked on a Point of View(POV) to help me to the synthesis of information that I gathered during my initial Empathise stage.

The main problem to be solved

Difficulty to purchase multi tickets through only one channel.

How to solve it? Develop a feature that integrates all city public transport system and Citymapper, so users can purchase tickets for their whole journey in only one click.


I started this stage by extracting attributes of my problem scenario and tried to make connections with the real world and already existed attributes.

As my main goal was to improve the user-journey mobility system, I started by listing how I could do this on an efficient and easy way. My first thought was to implement a wallet system but based on my findings, I decided to implement a ticket pass for that selected journey and then simplify their mobility issues.

The main reason why I chose the ticket pass method is that in some cities you can get a discount while integrating transportation systems. On this way, users would then choose the suggested route knowing how/why they are entitled to experience this benefit.

How the feature would work?

Once selected the journey, users will be able to see the suggested routes and they would then be able to choose which one to take. The user will then select one of the suggested routes and select the number of tickets they would like to purchase. From that, they will be able to pay safely through the app. The app will then generate a QR Code that will be scanned whenever needed by the user.

E.g: John travels every day from Sabadell to his work in Poblenou, so he needs to take the train and two different metro lines. John can select that journey x20 that it’s the number of times he goes to work a month or buy the work pass, pay through the app and scan the QR code when needed.


As said before, my solution was to create a ticket pass where users can buy the pass before using public transportation. I worked in 9 simple lo-fi screens. After choosing which location to go, the user will be redirected to the user journey below.

SCREEN 1. The user can choose what kind of transport they would like to use, for example, public transport, bicing, car and so on. Now they can choose which route they would like to take;

SCREEN 2. User can find details about the journey chosen;

SCREEN 3. User is redirected for the Ticket options area, where they can choose which kind of ticket they would like to get;

SCREEN 4. User is redirected to the payment section;

SCREEN 5. Payment confirmed;

SCREEN 6. They can now see their QR Code and the journey is chosen;

SCREEN 7. It’s a zoom of the QR Code that can be accessed with only one click;

SCREEN 8. User can track where they are through the interactive map;

SCREEN 9. An option to have a profile option where the users can check their journey and tickets after login (as it makes sense to have one).


This pre-work project helped me to understand a bit more and practice the Design Thinking methodology. It was great to understand the users and how they feel. Sometimes we focus so much in what the client wants that we end up forgetting what the users really need.*

I believe that Citymapper has great potential as an application, but still have a lot to improve in order to beat their competitors like Google Maps and Apple Maps. Innovating and creating useful new features could be a start.