Design Challenge #2, Part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of my second design challenge! Just as a refresher, here is the prompt:

The NYC metrocard system has remained unchanged for decades. The cost of the metrocard machine infrastructure, the lost time of waiting in line to buy a metrocard, touching a dirty machine to do it, the potential of losing the metrocard, and the ease of gaming the system by swiping your card for others has cost the city millions of dollars and leaves much to be desired from the user experience.

Design a new system that allows a daily user who uses the metro everyday or an-out-of-town visitor who will use the metro just once to get access to the metro, on time, without having a physical NYC metrocard on hand.

For this part of the design challenge, I focused on the Ideation and Prototype phases of design. I set a time limit of one hour for both parts for this part of the design challenge.

How do I handle this in an hour?

1. Loss of time waiting in line to buy a metrocard and to get it out and swipe
2. Potential of losing the metrocard
3. Limits scammers who will swipe the card for others or hijack card machines and resell them

- Residents
- Tourists

-Prior to going somewhere, people will use the app to purchase a metrocard


  1. I want to be able to refill my metrocard from my phone so I can save time during my commute to work
  2. I want to be able to purchase a metrocard from my phone so I can save time when I first land and can start enjoying my vacation immediately
  3. I want to be able to scan my phone when accessing the metro so I don’t risk the chances of losing a physical card, don’t have to touch a dirty machine, and so I don’t have to dig through my purse, saving time during my commute.


  • Option to purchase a new metrocard
  • Option to reload a current metrocard
  • QR code to scan when accessing the transit system (buses/trains)
  • Option to review their previous transactions

After summarizing this information, I performed 6–8–5 Sketching to get my ideas on paper. Here are the results:

The home screen gives users an option to access their current card, refill their card, purchase a new card, and to view metro locations. For the first part of this, I did it as a returning user’s view. So, if they select “my card,” it’ll bring them to a QR code for them to scan and enter the subway station (or board a bus). On the my card screen, they can refill their card or view their transaction history.

This view is what someone would select when they select “New Card,” they will be brought to different card options. For the purpose of the exercise, I did it as the user selected “Pay Per Use,” and they will be brought to a screen to enter the amount they want to enter and will need to enter a new payment method.

Onto the next phase: Protoype


Below are my wireframes I had done when my timer ran out. I wanted to keep going due to lack of detail but wanted to stick to the time limit. One thing I did notice though was the overall simplicity of the platform, so far.

Future Direction:

Areas I didn’t get to implement are the “Locations” Section, which would show nearby metro-stations, the help icon, which would allow access to the app in other languages for tourists visiting from other countries. Overall though, the app resolves the core issues and provide a contactless method for users to pay and enter the transit stations.

The primary flaws I saw with the app would be due to the technology itself. The main issue I see occurring is if someone relies on the app primarily to access the metro, but, their phone dies. Granted, this is something that is out of our control and is ones own responsibility, but, it is something to consider. Every now and then, our phone dies when least expected, how would the app provide benefit in this scenario? If using an iPhone, could the app also be made available on an Apple watch so the QR is accessible even when the phone is offline?

Another thing to consider is the functionality of the app underground, the app relies on cellular data and it is known that depending on the service provider, there may be limited service once underground. However, we could provide an “offline” option where the QR code is always accessible and is able to be scanned despite the limited service. These are just a few things to consider.

For me personally, I felt like for the first part of this challenge, I focused too much on the research and got pulled in too many directions. I need to be better at managing my time when researching. Overall though, for my first in-depth challenge, I was proud of myself. I know what works for me and can’t wait to keep practicing and improving.