Changing old patterns before changing code.
A market-leading incumbent of the transportation sector was facing emerging competition and the loss of its customer base. Vital to railway infrastructure, the business’s core product was a codebase for operations management deployed decades earlier that had since sprawled into a patchwork of antiquated software. New start-ups and peripheral industry players were on the horizon with modern software development--and customers, eager for new solutions, were paying attention. To defend its domination of the commuter railway market, the company called on Teague for modernization.
A thorough design and technology diagnosis was imperative. So, too, was sensitivity to the change-making process: Sacrificing future sustainability for customer sales had resulted in roughly 40 passenger rail implementations across the US for systems, each disproportionately customized. Leveraging large-scale software architecture expertise and extensive experience with highly specialized mobility markets, we planted the seed of user-centered design to ensure an end-to-end solution.
A user deep-dive.
Qualitative research was top of our agenda. For contextual inquiry, our team visited five railway operations centers across the US to spend time understanding how the business’s software product was used, customized, and implemented for different customers. Control room environments imparted a wealth of workflow observations. We conducted 25 onsite interviews with railway controllers; offsite, we interviewed 75 developers and stakeholders. Beneath the mesh of customization requests, we uncovered commonalities in pain points and user needs. For maximum transparency and collaboration, all work was shared in real-time with Google-suite tools, sparking valuable internal conversations across otherwise disparate teams.
We conducted 25 onsite interviews with railway controllers; offsite, we interviewed 75 developers and stakeholders.
Our team audited the software’s foundational architecture and user interface, conscious of the regulatory and technical hurdles that dictated particular aspects of functionality. Alongside interviewing rail traffic controllers, we conducted a heuristics analysis with modern software citations to resolve critical UX and cohesion issues, and studied macros for sequencing control operations, power planning, and train scheduling to develop new interaction concepts. The team created mockups and prototypes in Figma to interactively demonstrate the potential look, feel, and functionality of a potential new UI.