Redesigning the UK’s National Rail App


Surveys: defining our target

  • Out of all the age groups, 16–25 is the only age group more likely to buy tickets online and through a mobile app. 42% of all 16–25 are using a mobile app, compared to 29% for 26–35 years old, and 30% for 36–45 years old
  • Every age group travels by train, at least yearly
  • All age groups more likely to use a national service provider app rather than a 3rd party service
  • Users mostly want to plan their itineraries ahead of time
  • Users sometimes feel unsafe using an app
  • While on the other hand, people like the ease of use and convenience of apps as it avoids standing in a queue, and losing physical tickets
  • Users don’t like ads on mobile (who does?)
  • The users didn’t quite understand why the home page of the existing app included an overview of live trains and previous journeys
  • When users were trying to purchase a ticket, they couldn’t find the ‘buy tickets’ button
  • Users liked the ‘live trains’ feature
“It’s practical but not usable”


With our usability tests done and our survey and interview finished, we were able to put together an affinity map and finally start to see where opportunities lied. We’ve finally came up with dividing our main findings into several sub categories such as advantages of using the train, and the disadvantages of using an application for online train ticket purchasing and the opportunities that come with it.


Before we started with the prototypes, we wanted to figure out which problems we could solve and how much value this would add to the user. As we wouldn’t solve all the issues, we used the ‘Value vs. Complexity Quadrant’ as a tool to locate and prioritize the problems that we wanted to focus on.

  • Redesigning and simplifying the information architecture on the existing application
  • Make the feature ‘journey planner’ the landing page, so that users can straight away check timetables and purchase tickets for their preferred itinerary
  • Keep the ‘live trains’ option
  • Remove the ads
Screen 1
Screen 2
Screen 3
Screen 4
Screen 5 (Redirect to 3rd party payment)


By this stage, we were a little behind with our project. Ten days was not a lot to get all things accomplished next to a full-time job. In the end, we were only able to complete one usability test on our lo-fi prototype. The outcomes from this single test were to fine-tune the main feature and add a button or two for confirmation.

Joel Embiid of the NBA’s Philadelhia 76ers’ coined the term “trust the process



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Alex In The Dam

Alex In The Dam

Redefining your interactions with the world, one experience at a time