SHAPING THE SUBWAY EXPERIENCE
Class 06 CED: The class was divided into teams to research a topic of interest that related to customer experience design. My CED team decided to go in-depth and examine the customer experience while riding the subway. Based on our research, we were then asked to design a poster about our chosen subject, while incorporating the topics we have learned in class to date—market driving vs. market driven services and products, the customer journey, lovemarks, the doppelgänger brand and steps to change the doppelgänger brand narrative.
We chose the subway experience because it is a topic that many people can relate to and we highlighted train delays because it is a universal headache. From Toronto to Tokyo, Shanghai to Dubai, NYC to Washington D.C.—there are 157 cities in 55 countries around the world where subway travel has become a necessary public service to move mass amounts of people throughout a city and country. Keep in mind, the subway experience begins even before you get on the train. It starts above ground, with signage, maps, apps, and public perception. Nor does it end once a passenger departs from the train because how one navigates through a subway station is just as important as the subway ride. The subway has many valuable characteristics: it’s a public service that provides people with transportation, which is a less expensive alternative than owning a car and sometimes also a quicker mode of transportation, it's an environmental option that cuts down the number of cars on the road, and it's a revenue generator that contributes to a city’s economy. That said, subway travel can also be a source of aggravation, anxiety, and most alarmingly, assault. The (Toronto) Star reported there were 577 reports of sexual assault on TTC property or vehicles between 2011 and 2015. That's almost one assault occurring every three days and based on those stats the numbers were predicted to rise in 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately, this is not unique to Toronto; it happens every day, multiple times a day, in subways around the world.
We initially chose to take a light-hearted approach when designing the poster. However, I would be interested to know what readers think my group should focus on moving forward with the topic of improving the customer experience while riding the subway. It can be as innocuous as train delays or as serious as sexual assault, or another subway topic to highlight. I would like to hear from you. The topic focus will become the foundation for an article we will be writing for the American Marketing Association and possibly the Huffington Post blog, U.S. edition. As well, we will be making a 90-second video on the topic. Both projects take place during the next 6 week of the course.
About the poster: I was inspired by Otto Neurath who studied the functional aspects of symbols to break the language barrier and communicate a message. Neurath, who was an Austrian, philosopher of science, political economist, and sociologist, was influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphics, whose designs had a similar purpose. This examination served as the catalyst to pursue his goal, which was to design a universal pictorial language system that anyone could understand regardless of language. He created ISOTYPE, a pictorial form whose function was to educate and communicate technical, biological, and historical information in a clear and concise manner. Flash forward to the 1948 Olympic games in London England, where these symbolic elements entered the mainstream vernacular as what we now refer to as infographics or pictograms. The Olympics is a moment in time where the world comes together to celebrate sport; where else would the impact of infographics and the need to break down language barriers
be more important. Here is a link if you want to geek out on a visual timeline of Olympic pictograms: https://mediamadegreat.com/olympic-pictograms/
Thus, with this in mind, I designed the poster using a minimal amount of language to reflect an ordinary day on the subway, one that is annoying yet amusing. The poster depicts the pictogram passenger, emblematized with a red heart, getting a ticket for the subway (bottom left). The passenger travels along while encountering topics the course covered thus far in class. Throughout the customer journey (see Class 02 blog post: HEYY! WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT ONLINE DATING & MAPPING OUT THE EXPERIENTIAL JOURNEY) the passenger is in contact with different subway experiences (the touch-points and cues); those items that are bothersome to passenger changes the heart from red to grey, indicating frustration. At the end of the journey it's realized there is no love lost i.e. there isn't a subway lovemark (see Class 03 blog post). This is where we come in as customer experience designers. Turning the subway experience into a lovemark may be lofty goal, nonetheless, our objective is to create a better subway experience and your feedback on the subject is greatly appreciated.
Rich, Sarah C. July 20, 2012 https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-history-of-the-olympic-pictograms-how-designers-hurdled-the-language-barrier-4661102/
Spurr , Ben, The Star, Oct. 31, 2016
Statistics Brief World Metro Figures" (pdf). Union Internationale des Transports Publics (UITP) (International Association of Public Transport). October 2015. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
Worrell, LA Jan. 21, 2015 http://www.laworrell.com/blog/2015/1/14/isotype-international-system-of-typographic-picture-education