Users have played a crucial role in the TMaaS project right from the very first day. We involved them closely in the development of the LINK.Gent platform via a wide range of initiatives. And we continue to rely on their input and feedback at this advanced stage. One example is our plan to set up two new user surveys by the end of October under the direction of Kevin Sanders of Mintlab Leuven and with the cooperation of the European Passengers’ Federation.
The survey is made up of two parts: a short survey and a longer survey both of which focus on the experience of users. And to round off the survey these will be followed by an in-depth interview. The coordinator Kevin Sanders announced: “We will very shortly be launching LINK.Gent for the general public. From that moment on, people will be able to actually use the dashboard. These two surveys are a clear demonstration of our desire to ensure thorough testing of users’ experience of the platform. All the different partners of the TMaaS consortium were given the opportunity to formulate a number of questions to present to the users. We have broken these down into six main aspects:
Statistics on usage
The goal here is to generate statistical material about the use of the system: which parts of the system are used, by whom, in which way, etc.?
Perceived information quality
What do users think about the quality of the information on the platform? Is it accurate, reliable, etc.?
People who have registered to receive specific information about their routes, receive alerts via sms, email, etc. We want to check how the users evaluate this system. What do they find good about it, and what not, what do they think about the timing of the alerts, is the content useful to them, etc.?
Overall user satisfaction
For this aspect, we look into whether the users are satisfied about the overall system. This includes registration, the dashboard itself and the general functioning.
Integration in daily travel behaviour
How do people use the platform as part of their everyday lives?
Potential for adoption
To what extent will people make effective use of the system? How strongly do they feel about working with this system in their actual lives?
In the first, longer survey, we look into the use of the system over a period of three weeks. All the participants – there will be 30 to 40 – will participate in this part. Every time they use the system – either to look something up or because they have received a message, etc. – they will fill in a form via which they can give all kinds of feedback about the information provided. Was it helpful? Was the timing of the alerts appropriate? This should become a sort of journal therefore, in which they keep track of the different occasions on which they use the system. There are three different types of forms: one that is sent after a user looks something up, one that is sent after the user has received an alert and one that is sent out when the user has not used the platform for a whole day. In the event of the latter, we ask why the user has not used the platform. Users can also use the journal to report their thoughts on whether they feel that the system somehow falls short for example. This might be because they expected a message at a certain moment, but in fact it never arrived.
For the second part of the survey – the short survey – we ask a small subgroup of the participants to take part. We ask them to comment on how they felt about their first experience with the platform. They are helped by EPF team members with registering and they take their first steps in the platform. As they are going about this, they are asked a wide range of questions about their first impressions. We also ask about and discuss their expectations of the platform according to the different possibilities that we show them. This part of the survey takes an hour.
Searching for context
For this conclusive part of the survey we ask five people to take part in an interview. We also ask them about their use of the platform and their experiences so far. These participants will include people who have written a lot in their journal as well as participants who have been less verbose about their experiences. In this way we hope to gain a broader context of the journals that have been submitted.
The results that emerge from these surveys will, wherever possible, be integrated into the system. Since we are already approaching the end of the project, we will only be able to do so to a limited degree. We do not have enough time to process all the results. However, it will be possible to take some elements into account, such as the feedback on the timing of the alerts. The main purpose of this survey though, is to evaluate our product and provide useful suggestions for similar projects and systems in the future. Surveys of this kind help us to provide useful information about the conditions that a system of this kind needs to meet in order to ensure efficient and effective functioning.