Transportation system information

Transport information A quick visit to EPFL last week in Lausanne gave me the opportunity to observe and test the new QR-code system that enable to get some information about the tram schedule.

The service works pretty well but it's rather the little poster showed on the picture above that raised my attention. What is strikingly curious is that the size of this sheet of paper (that explain how to use this weird B&W square) is the same as the tram schedule (on the bottom left-hand corner). For most of the cell-phone users, this kind of system is fairly new and the transportation company (+ the IT company which provided them with this "solution") felt the need to give some sort of step-by-step description.

Why do I blog this? Observing the environment and trying to surface some remarks about the implications. The poster describes what the user needs (obviously, a phone and a service that allows to scan QR code), the different steps to make it work (I like the "Confirm the Internet connection" phase) and a warning that you should check with your mobile phone carrier what would be the price of such transaction. As usual with technological innovations, the stake-holders try to help potential users and give a large amount of details that make the poster as long as the schedule poster. Of course there are two supposed expectations from this long description: (1) Teaching people how to use a technical objects (the QR code scanning process that can help to get real-time information), (2) Once the lesson learned it will be OK to remove this description and only keep the two QR codes.

On the UX side, I am also a bit concerned by the legibility of the two QR codes that refers to both directions of the tram. My guess is that some sort of graphic design trick could help here, either below the code (with a bigger font) or on the code itself using a different sort of visual marker. A D-touch marker with some easy-to-read "Flon" and "Renens" (the name of the two directions) tags would be helpful. Although they look curious-and-cool, I've always thought that a solution which can be "both machine-readable and visually communicative to humans" would be better. Especially in an urban context.