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UnitransNow Redesign

Redesigning popular transit app, UnitransNow for a more seamless riding experience. 


6 weeks

April 2020 -

May 2020


Nadia Anees

Dorothy Hung

Emily Lam

Jasmine Chou






UX Research




Starting Route

Project Overview

Our team redesigned the UnitransNow Mobile app over the course of

6 weeks. The main purpose of the app is to provide students with

updated information about the bus schedule, local bus stops, and

arrival predictions for various lines that run throughout the city of


We redesigned the UnitransNow app to make it faster and more

intuitive for students to access all the information they need to

take the bus comfortably and efficiently.

The current UnitransNow interface

The Problem

Problem Statement

From our research, we articulated our problem statement, which was key in navigating us through our design process.


“College students at UC Davis find themselves using various resources to navigate the bus system because the UnitransNow app does not sufficiently compile all the necessary tools and resources in one place.”

From there, we set our goals to make the app more intuitive, consolidate information better, and produce a simpler layout.

The Riders

Users and Audience

UC Davis is known for its efficient public transportation system, and college students commonly use UnitransNow to check bus times at their frequented bus lines, navigate their way to new places, and receive helpful updates during their bussing journey.

Running into a Flat Tire

Scope and Constraints

  • Time constraint

  • Remote work

  • Learning curve using Figma


Understanding our audience

To better understand how people navigate and perceive the UnitransNow app, we conducted nine user interviews. Given our time constraints, we found surveys to be a relatively fast way of collecting the demographics of the students at UC Davis using public transit.

To better understand how people navigate and perceive the UnitransNow app, we each conducted 2–3 user interviews virtually. People who were new to using Unitrans and didn’t know all the stops or bus routes often found themselves very limited and stuck without the capability to search within the app. Additionally, about 80% of the participants we interviewed found themselves juggling between several transit apps in addition to UnitransNow to receive all the information they needed to complete a trip successfully.

“It is hard not having a search feature, I would like a way to put in a location and have it tell me the nearest bus stop because I don’t know the lines”

— Sophia Acker


Reframing the Problem to Ideation Phase


We organized the observations from our user interviews to identify patterns on how people were using the current UnitransNow app. Our group discussions about our interview findings revealed that current users liked the simplicity of UnitransNow.

Through competitive analysis, we drew inspiration from reliable resources students were already familiar with, such as Google Maps and NextBus. Common features throughout these platforms included the to/from feature, a time table, notifications, and navigation bars, which help the user get from point A to B purely using Unitrans. Through these discussions, we began to dissect the features of the UnitransNow app.

We noticed that the app lacked functions that accommodated users who were unfamiliar with the bus system and found that there were quite a few features which weren’t being used well or used at all, such as the bookmarks, messages, and the nearby tab. We decided to prioritize features that would make the whole journey of navigating the bus system more user friendly to those who are new to using the Unitrans bus system.

Operations and Maintenance

Sketching for a Solution

 In our sketches, we drew inspiration from existing navigation apps and tried to recreate features that would help students “plan their trip” more effectively.

Finally on the Road

Low fidelity/Mid Fidelity

In our low and mid-fidelity prototype, we wanted to explore options that would increase usability and consolidate important resources in one place. We wanted to eliminate the need to switch back and forth between different apps and resources in order for the rider to be able to see when their bus was coming.

We decided to implement several new features into the UnitransNow app, which included:

Time tables from Unitrans

  • This would be a reliable place for riders to refer to when their app is not loading the predicted times or is being uncooperative. Riders would be able to download the time table to refer to later, if needed.

  • There are times, however, when the buses do not run on the specified times on the timetable. This may pose confusion to the rider if they are not already familiar with what times that their desired bus actually runs.


Flow for finding bus time tables 

Live map feature

  • This shows exactly where the bus is in real-time. Users are able to track down the bus and see how close the bus is to coming to the stop.


Live map feature 

Navigational map feature

  • This feature can tell the rider how to get from point A to B using the Unitrans bus system. This will help to eliminate any confusion regarding how to navigate Unitrans.

  • Oftentimes, however, the rider may need to transfer at one of the terminals on campus in order to get to their destination. For those who are new to using public transportation, this may be a little confusing.


Walkthrough of the navigational feature

Almost There…

High Fidelity & Design System

In our high fidelity prototype, we worked on refining our designs, as well as taking a look at some of UnitransNow’s current features to see how they could be improved. Instead of a Bookmarks tab that the app currently had, we transformed it into a more robust section called “Your Stops.” This feature helps users save their most-used stops so that they have easy access to them on the home page.


Announcements Feature 


Adding a stop to the homepage


Navigating to a destination

Bus systems are never perfect. Sometimes,

things come up that may delay the bus, or

there might be a special schedule running

at a particular time. With the implementation of an announcement system, riders are able

to see important announcements.

Arriving at our destination

Outcomes and Lessons

At a glance, our major contributions to this redesign involved creating a home/landing page so that the user’s saved information could be accessible from the moment they open the app. This includes bookmarked bus stops and new announcements, which was also a feature that was previously nested within each individual route in the old app. Now, people could see up-to-date information regarding their saved bus lines or plan sooner if any delays occur.

After compiling all our information from our competitive analysis, we found that many people needed used apps in addition to UnitransNow because they sought the “to-and-from” feature offered through Google Maps and other resources. We created a separate tab for the maps feature, which not only would help people estimate the travel time and distance of the route they plan on taking but also suggest alternate routes, just in case.

Tidying Up


The final Unitrans design system 

Planning for the Next Trip

Usability testing was smooth sailing (or driving), except that we conducted our test runs near the end of our project — the reason being that we felt even the little interactions and finishing touches were what made the experience unique apart from the original UnitransNow app. Thus, we weren’t able to incorporate the feedback we received in time for Presentation Day, but we do wish to make improvements based on responses from usability testing. Further development would likely include creating more seamless transitions between the pages, refining the accessibility of information specific to each bus line, and improving the customization settings of the overall app.

We hope our UnitransNow redesign can make transportation an easier task that busy students don't have to stress about in their daily routines.

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