Age Friendly Ireland / Flexibus


The Problem

Flexibus, a volunteer-based service providing transport to the elderly in rural areas of Ireland would like to improve their service. At present, lifts are organised by phoning the local office and enquiring whether any drivers might be available at the required date and time. Although this method works, Flexibus felt it was not as efficient as could be and may work better if the communication between volunteers and users was more direct. There was also a wish on Flexibus' part to allow users to see what lifts were already being given, allowing a user to "tag along" if they wished.

Age Friendly Ireland / Flexibus


The Problem

Flexibus, a volunteer-based service providing transport to the elderly in rural areas of Ireland would like to improve their service. At present, lifts are organised by phoning the local office and enquiring whether any drivers might be available at the required date and time. Although this method works, Flexibus felt it was not as efficient as could be and may work better if the communication between volunteers and users was more direct. There was also a wish on Flexibus' part to allow users to see what lifts were already being given, allowing a user to "tag along" if they wished.

The Solution

The solution was to undertake research on Flexibus' users and gather insights on what kind of service they would like, how much control they are comfortable to give to technology and to what extent are they proficient with mobile technologies. The research conducted would be based on interviews and Design Thinking workshops, the outcomes of which would inform the creation of personas and user journeys. Wireframes would then be created and then finally a clickable prototype to allow for user testing.

The Process

The first task which was undertaken was to interview product stakeholders, users of the current Flexibus service and also volunteers who helped with the service. These interviews were carried out to determine what was viewed as the essential user requirements of the application. The interviews also helped greatly in allowing us to know how proficient with technology the core audience was likely to be.

Following on from these interviews, a Design Thinking workshop was held. The dynamic of this session proved very useful in adding depth to the insights gained from the interview stage. During this session, several important factors and complexities became apparent. These included, how to allow users to avail of existing lifts, complications arising from users being allowed to specify return times for lifts, within what parameters would a user be allowed to edit details of an existing lift, within what distance setting can a user request a lift, and how can a user set a lift to be recurring. With the outputs of the interviews and Design Thinking collected, personas and user journeys were created. These functioned as a guide for the development of the next stages; sketches, wireframing and prototyping.

The next stage of the process began with sketching ideas, based on the previous stage's outcomes. At this stage, it was already becoming apparent that any application addressing Flexibus' wishes would be quite complex to implement. For example, allowing users to specify return times for lifts being a problematic area because a user may not necessarily know what their actual return time was likely to be (eg. if they at a hospital appointment). Sketches were then converted to wireframes which would act as a UX Design guide, detailing and explaining each screen so that this document could be given to a developer to base their work on. Finally, a clickable prototype was made using Axure RP to allow stakeholders and users to test the proposed design.

Challenges and Reflections

The main challenge of this project was designing a complex solution in a manner that would be understandable and intuitive to users who were not technologically proficient. There were particular parts of the application that created complex problems that needed to be solved, such as the issue of allowing return trips, It was also imperative to keep in mind the target user group during all stages of design. This is notable, for example, in the sizing of elements, or buttons being implemented in place of swiping gestures as they were more understandable to an older user group. This itself was a challenge in that at times an aesthetically pleasing design had to take second preference to fool-proof usability for non-tech-proficient users.