Design Thinking: my 1st Challenge at Ironhack

Sara Zeverino
6 min readMay 9, 2021


Hi! My name is Sara, I live in Berlin and in the past 10 years I have been working in Fashion, Online Marketing and Customer Experience.

Being a curious person and always willing to develop myself, I have decided to acquire new skills and attend the UX/UI Design Bootcamp at Ironhack. In order to start diving into this new world, we have been asked to deal with some initial challenges and I am going to share them with you!

The first challenge consists in designing a new feature for the Citymapper app, that will allow users to buy different public transport tickets in an easier and convenient way.

What is Citymapper?

Citymapper is a public transit app and mapping service which displays transport options, usually with live timing, between any two locations in a supported city. It integrates data for all urban modes of transport, including walking, cycling and driving, in addition to public transport.

It was first launched in London (2011), and then in New York. The app now covers all European and the US cities and is fast expanding to cover all metro areas around the globe.

What is the problem?

When moving around a city, people find themselves having to use and download different apps to see where they want to go (maps), how they want to reach those places (via public transports, bikes, taxis…) and how/where they pay for those services (through apps, on spot, in cash, with credit card).

Even though Citymapper gives you an overview of all the possibilities, it is lacking a ticket purchasing system and our goal here is allowing users to have an easy, integrative and better urban mobility experience by giving them the possibility to buy any ticket/ride they need directly within the app.

How do we do that?

Design Thinking Process


The first step is to understand what are the challenges that people face when it comes to urban mobility and see how we can improve the product and meet the users needs.

In order to find this out, I have chosen a target group of 5 people between 30–40 years old, living in big cities, using their phone every day and who are familiar with other apps like Uber, Lime and asked them the following questions:

  • How they move around in their city and when they are on holidays.
  • If and how they use public transport.
  • What they like and what they hate about it.
  • What tools they use to find directions and to buy tickets.
  • What they think about the buying ticket process and what are the main challenges they have to face.
  • What they would like to improve about the ticket process and what they would wish for the perfect app and ticket system.


Once all the inputs are gathered, it is the moment to understand what the pain points are and what we can do to solve the issues that users face when they want to move around a city.

I was able to identify 3 macro-categories and group the issues as following:


  • People prefer to pay online, rather than use cash or credit cards, when moving around.
  • Considering public transportation can be expensive, dirty and stressful, people prefer to spend money in car sharing or renting bikes to have freedom and independency.


  • Even though there is a huge offer for transportations (trains, bus, bikes, Car sharing, Uber), each of them requires a different app and the creation of an account. Often those apps (especially the ones for public transports) are local, users will need them only for a weekend (if they’re on holidays) and they are not as user friendly (sometimes you can’t even buy tickets)!
  • Public transports rates are not always convenient for people who don’t use transports so much, therefore the possibility to “Pay for what you use” is something that they would like to have (rather than daily or 2 hours tickets).


  • Buying physical tickets at vendor machine can be time consuming and stressful. Those machine are often broken, the ink on the ticket is not very visible, they don’t offer many languages, they don’t have explanations and people don’t know which options they have.
  • Having to register to different apps every time you visit a new city is also a waste of time. Most of the time those apps (especially the ones for public transportation) do not allow you to buy tickets, have very bad interfaces and basically they are only downloaded to be canceled 5 minutes later!
Target Group Insights


With this in mind, I have tried to identify what kind of solutions could improve the overall user experience and make our target’s lives easier.

According to what my target group expressed during the interviews, I figured out that what they are looking for in a mobility app is:

  • Transparency.
  • Customized rates/Discounts.
  • Clarity and speed.

Starting from this point, we have an ocean of possibilities to be creative and think of which feature we can design to make our users happy! I came up with the following ideas:

  1. Allowing the user to buy tickets in 2 clicks, according to their selected payment methods and type of tickets (that they have previously selected in their account).

2. Giving the possibility to customize their view so it only shows them their most used transportation (and make the process faster and clear).


In this phase you realize how many different solutions you can offer to solve the same problem and how important it is to start prototyping in order to see and think of every little details that will allow the users to buy tickets in the most simple and efficient way.


In my case, I have only focused the attention on the time-consuming aspect my target mentioned, but I am aware there are tons of ideas and features that can be designed according to the different target groups and according to the reasons why people are using the app (holidays, daily life).

I have realized how important it is to have a clear idea of who the users we are designing our feature for are. It really helps with framing the problems, the needs and, consequently, the solutions.

Visualizing the flow during the prototype phase has been the most challenging task. It really puts you in front of the situation where you have to foresee what issues users might face when they have performed one action and then want to move to the next one.

But I am only at the beginning and I can’t wait to learn more of the whole UX design process!

Thank you for reading,




Sara Zeverino

Berlin based, made in Italy, dreamer.