Citymapper — design thinking challenge

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As a traveler, transportation is vital to any trip. In a foreign country, of even another city, getting from point A to point B can be a challenge, even with all the advancements in travel technology available today. Citymapper is an app that helps travelers map their routes, through the integration of city maps, with transit modes and routes. Citymapper includes local transport, rideshare apps, and bike/scooter share options where available. While Citymapper has a lot going for it, it has some pain points that can be worked out to improve their users’ experience.


As a frequent traveler, I started by asking myself what pain points were there that could be improved upon and what problems would be solved in using Citymapper. Although I was able to think of a few myself, in order to get good data, I needed input from other users.

I interviewed 5 travelers, who have used public transport abroad when travelling. The main problems that stood out with users were:

  • Payment options: with digital wallets and card readers at most businesses, cash payments are being used less and less. Options like apple pay or the option of pre-loading money onto an account or app “wallet” makes it easier and faster to purchase fares.
  • Currency: in-app currency conversion and payment options make it easier for users to choose an option.
  • Price of travel: many apps show transit routes and options, but lack pricing for these routes.
  • Ticket options: often transit apps show the cheapest option for a single ride, but do not take into account that a traveler may take multiple trips, which may make a 24 hr, multi-trip, or multi-transit ticket more economical.
  • Ease of access: being able to see transit directions and access tickets in the same app improves the user’s experience and saves time.

Defining the Problem

While there were a few problems that stood out from my interviews, I chose to focus on the one that was mentioned most and develop a problem statement:

“Citymapper strives to provide the lowest, most accurate pricing and payment options across multiple modes of transit, while allowing flexibility with routes, modes of travel, and budget. Citymapper’s goal is to provide integrated and detailed transit routes, while making payment transparent, convenient, and accessible to all travelers”


Once the problem is defined, possible solutions can be developed. A simple and effective way is with a mind map. I made the mind map below to generate possible solutions, and then narrowed them down to three:

  • currency conversion
  • easy & varied payment options
  • multiple transit options, for varied budgets


Once the problem has been defined and a solution has been brainstormed, the next step is to visualize how these solutions may look from a user’s point of view, through the process of prototyping. Prototyping allows you to see how your solution will look to users and how they will interact with it. My prototype drawings below are simply a starting point, which through feedback can be modified and improved to fit the user’s needs.


This process has helped me to grasp the idea of design thinking. Design is not a linear process, but a loop that is continually in motion. Learning to think like a designer is a new process for many people, myself included, but a great way to learn is by doing and this project has definitely helped me to grasp the different concepts and steps to design thinking. The user is the key to all your actions and processes in design, so always keep their experience in mind, and at the center of your thought process, so you can continually improve your product and experience.




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Mark Stoliarchuk

Mark Stoliarchuk

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