Design Thinking — Ironhack Challenge 1

Inès Yessad
4 min readDec 29, 2020

Citymapper the Ultimate Transport App.

Founded by Azmat Yusuf in 2011 in London, Citymapper is a public transit app and mapping service. Built for the real world of commuters and their daily needs, their goal is to solve the problems of urban mobility by offering the quickest and cheapest public and private transport routes to their users. Live in 50+ cities worldwide, this app allows you to identify the nearest stations, bus and bike stops to your location, in the world’s major cities.

You can also have directions to get as close as possible to the right exit, or to the corridor leading to your connection. Amazing right ?

Yet an important feature is missing to make this app outstanding to many users. My aim for this challenge is to create a feature for this app to solve a problem many users encounter while using public transportation abroad, how to solve the pain of having to buy different public transport tickets by different channels ?

To solve this problem, I have applied IDEO’s Design Thinking methodology; Empathize, Define, Ideate and prototype.


« To create meaningful innovations, you need to know your users and care about their lives »

This phase is essential to create good designs built on a solid understanding of users.

To help me identify a problem, I had to pay full attention to its potential user target by observing, engaging and listening. For my interview, I chose to focus on adults from 18–60 years old traveling abroad for business, here are a few questions I asked :

  • How often do you use public transportation ?
  • How do you plan your trip ? In advance ? With an app ?
  • How do you feel about taking public transportation ?
  • Have you encounter any issue when buy tickets ?

To summarize their answers, many of them struggle to find their way around large cities. The ticketing process is different in every city and the pricing not always understandable.


« Framing the right problem is the only way to create the right solution »

The define mode is critical to the design process. We need to synthesize all the informations gathered. Based on the interviewed responses, I learned that all my users had the same commun issue to buy tickets;

Each city has its own complex transportation system with its own rules and fares. For instance London and Paris function with different zones, different ticket prices. It results in a confused user experience.

My goal for this project is to find a solution on how to help the user have more control over their journeys.


« It’s not about coming up with the ‘right’ idea, it’s about generating the broadest range of possibilities. »

Let’s be creative, this phase is the combination of imagination and innovation.

In this part I used brainstorming techniques. It helped me get a better understanding of the new feature I am designing for Citymapper. I wanted to answer this ticketing problem by offering to add an additional functionality to the application by using the NFC Technology.

NFC “Near Field Communication” is a mainstream wireless technology. It enables short-range communication between compatible devices. This requires at least one transmitting device, and one receiving the signal.

My creative solution : One pass card for all transport worldwide.

The user will have a direct access to « My city Wallet » on the app. A digital Citymapper card will be created with the option to credit it with money in advance. The user will scan his phone at every checkpoint and the amount will be deducted. They will have control over their budget with the freedom to move and travel to different places, stress free !

A solution to make easy travel.

By using this fast track it will resolve many adjacent problems, like crowd control around checkpoints, it will reduce the time of each transaction from 30 seconds to about 1 second resulting in less people gathering and blocking the exit.


« Build to think and test to learn. »

The prototype mode is intended to answer questions to get close to the final solution.


Following the design thinking process I learned how to structure my research, to recognize and specify the best problem to solve. I developed and shaped my solution along the way. From my initial idea to prototype it.

This study gave me an idea on how to approach innovation challenges from a human-centered perspective.



Inès Yessad

Former Flight Attendant starting a new journey as a UX/UI Designer