TfL TravelBot: Designing the conversation

As you may already know if you’re following this blog, we recently released the TfL TravelBot on Facebook Messenger. If you haven’t read them yet, Steven and Charul’s posts will give you a bit of background.
Check out TravelBot here or search for TfL TravelBot in the messenger application. In this post I will explore the reasons for introducing a conversational bot and our learnings around the design of conversation.

Diverse backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles mean that we all use different words to talk about things. This can become frustrating when you’re trying to find something on a website.

In our team, we try to label things in a way that most users will understand, but are well aware of the fact that we will never be able to cater for everyone. This means that some users have to change the way they think to match what they are looking for.

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Design Students Complete a 5-day Sprint

Collaboration is a huge part of what we do at TfL. So it was great to spend last week working with 6 young designers, talking them through our approach to experience design and working on prototype ideas for the Cycle Hire scheme. Members of our Experience Design Team led the 5-day sprint at the London Transport Museum, where the event was part of the Designology studio programme.

Tabletop Walkthrough Map
We produced a range of materials – such as this Tabletop Walkthrough Map – to help students to get into the mindset of people using the Cycle Hire scheme

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Late Debate at London Transport Museum Thursday 28 July 2016

Enjoy an evening of circuit training for the brain at London Transport Museum’s first ever Late Debate, which takes place on the evening of Thursday 28 July. Guests will be able to join a choice of interactive debates and workshops, as well as enjoy a bar, music and the Museum’s new Designology exhibition.

Brain food with a twist - Late Debate at London Transport Museum Thursday 28 July 2016
‘Brain food with a twist’ – The first ever Late Debate at London Transport Museum will take place on Thursday 28 July 2016

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Digital Zone at the Transported by Design Festival

It was an absolute pleasure to be hosting in the Digital Zone of the Transported by Design festival yesterday (Sunday 3 July), which saw Regent Street transformed into a vehicle-free street for the day, as cars, buses and taxis were replaced by stalls, marquees and even a Tube train carriage!

Transported by Design festival
The expert speakers in the Transported by Design Digital Zone focused on how digital technology will influence the future of transport

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Design Students – Join us for a 5-day Sprint

TfL’s Experience Design team is inviting 6 enthusiastic design students to take part in a 5-day design sprint in collaboration with the TfL Cycle Hire team. The goal is to offer hands-on experience of the mindset and tools of the human-centred design that the TfL Experience Design team use in their everyday work.  

5 Day Design Sprint
Join us for a 5-day design sprint, from interpreting the design challenge to testing ideas on the public and presenting your findings to the TfL Experience Design team

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Guest blog – Innovation in the City event

We’re delighted to share this post from guest blogger Paula White, who is a Software Architect with IBM. Paula lives in London and has a special interest in cities. Here, Paula shares her experience of ‘Innovation in the City,’ the first in a series of future-planning events which took place last week – you can find details of the next event towards the end of this post.

Last week I attended an Innovation in the City event with Urban Design London.  I had been really looking forward to the event and my team and I arrived with the supplies for the workshop to define challenges for housing, transport, planning and streets. The event was attended mostly by local authorities, housing associations, charities and TfL employees.

We heard initially from Steve Haskey, IBM’s Design Studio lead about IBM Design Thinking. The key idea with Design Thinking is to think about people rather than things, and to consider peoples’ needs. It requires empathy. Design thinking can be used in the design of anything, and part of the approach is to put aside constraints and assumptions.

This helps in creating something that is not only functional, but also makes a significant difference to the person using it. Even more vitally it can create real step changes in innovation. Tim Brown, an authority on design thinking, gives the example of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who with his vision of the train gliding through the landscape, being part of an integrated transport system and of real service to society, was a design thinker. Watch Tim Brown’s Ted talk on design thinking here.

In London, as most people will be aware, we are growing at unprecedented rates, with a population of 10 million estimated for 2030. The workshop was to be centred around questions of how our infrastructure will cope, and are there different ways to think about how we will adapt?

The Empathy Map and scenarios for 'Amy,' our fictional character, which got the group thinking about ways to improve her experience of transport in the city
The Empathy Map and scenarios for ‘Amy,’ our fictional character, which got the group thinking about ways to improve her experience of transport in the city

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International DfE Awards: Another win for new site

Following on from last year’s double win at the User Experience UK Awards, our new website has enjoyed more success after picking up the award for best Mobile Solution or Application at the inaugural International Design for Experience Awards.

TfL, New Website, Award
The new TfL website has won best Mobile Solution or Application at the DfE Awards.

UX Magazine, sponsors of the awards, had this to say about our new mobile-friendly site scooping the prize:

Working in collaboration with TfL’s online marketing team and build partner Detica, we are experience set out to create a responsive site that would work on any device and provide a consistent experience—bringing together big data, live updates, and location-based services for the world’s most complex public transport network.

A clearly outlined design process that would be very easy to use as aresource for teaching, a solid roll-out strategy, a good system for collecting and synthesizing customer feedback, and analytics to support their story all made an impression on the judges.

See all the DfE award winners here.