Amazon recently launched the train booking experience on their mobile app.
This was an MVP launch and was introduced on Android app and mobile website to begin with. The basic functionalities which were performed by the users include:
Ticket Booking: Users would be able to book train tickets using Amazon Pay.
Seat & Quota Availability: Users will also be able to check the seat and quota availability across all train classes on the Amazon app
PNR Status: User will also be able to check the PNR status of the ticket booked on Amazon. PNR status of tickets booked via other mediums cannot be checked on Amazon for now.
Other Features: The user can also download and cancel tickets booked via Amazon. Amazon is encouraging users to pay using Amazon Pay Balance to get instant refund in case of cancellations or booking failures.
I worked as an individual contributor on this project. I handled the Product Design - User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) . I was closely working with the Developers & Product Managers.
(Trains is part on AmazonPay)
PWa, Android App
Research & Insights
The design process consisted mainly of doing secondary research to understand the product, users, the approach and the client & their requirement better.
Rise of online train ticket booking
While IRCTC remains the only government-run ticketing platform for the railways, private players began entering the online train ticket booking business in India around the early 2000s. Train ticketing became one of the fastest-growing verticals within the online ticketing market. I did some secondary research to understand how the growth has taken place.
The increased use of internet by people across the country is evident from the fact that the percentage of internet ticketing passengers overtook the percentage of counter ticketing passengers for the first time in 2014-15.
booked per day
growth in number of tickets booked in past 5 years
tickets per minute is the Ticket Booking Capacity
enquires per second
The Railway Ministry has introduced multiple checks to stop the misuse of Internet Ticket booking facility by the user of automated software. The checks have been introduced both at the time of registration as well as booking.
Understanding the user
Amazon Trains is powered by IRCTC and it is essential to understand the users behaviour before moving to designing the experience. I interviewed a few people to understand better how they make train bookings and what hurdles they face.
Major travel booking is done on IRCTC website
IRCTC has a trust factor with users
Worry of hidden costs on third party apps/ websites
Long and tedious process of creating IRCTC account
Attracting factor is offers and discounts
IRCTC website tends to be slow at times
Third party websites still have a IRCTC login/ sign up
Overload of information
“IRCTC have improved a lot lately ,but still the navigation through the website is a bit difficult."
“Sometimes the IRCTC website automatically logs me out.”
“Third party websites have hidden charges.”
“All train option does not displayed, which can get confusing.”
Alternate options easily available for seamless booking
Understanding the Problem
While IRCTC remains the only government-run ticketing platform for the railways, private players began entering the online train ticket booking business in India around the early 2000s. Train ticketing became one of the fastest-growing verticals within the online ticketing market. Today there are a number of online platforms offering this service.
There are a number of parameters that need to be addressed while building a train ticketing product. These are mostly laid out by the IRCTC and can get quite cumbersome.
Since IRCTC allowed private players to sell train tickets as well, the competition has increased, which also means there is an increasing need to understand the pain points of the users
Train booking is not a very profitable business for companies and they need to find different revenue streams. This is mainly due to low margins and high government regulations.
Areas of Improvement
Identifying Design requirements
Based on interviews and business requirements, basic design and tech requirements were identified. These were then segregated so that it would give a direction during the designing and ideation.
Clean & easy to understand interfaces & flows
Easily accessible information
Quick actions should be easily accessible
Train availability should be colour coded so that easy to understand
Maximise efficiency by making the product fast
Use of colours to indicate necessary information easily
Regular feedback for usability and any painpoints
Cognitive load should be reduced
Tatkal functionality should work seamlessly
Creating the flow
After working on the wireframes and initial iterations, final screens were worked created. These were designed keeping in mind the requirements of the users. A Usability Testing was also carried out in order to validate the designs better with the users.
Testing & Release
How testing impacted design.
The designs were tested with the users before moving them into development.
Train booking is very data heavy but regular travellers are very attuned to seeing the information in the certain way.
A lot of iterations were made for the landing page and some were tested out with the users and some internally to understand whether the page was creating cognitive load or it was easy to understand.
Regular train travellers easily understand the short forms like RLWL, RAC, PQWL, etc. These didn't create a hindrance during the train booking journey.
The train selection process was made easy by giving the users various options for the IRCTC Login which is a mandate for booking a train ticket.
The MVP for Amazon trains was launched in 2020 for Android and MWeb.
This was a very interesting experience and had its own unique challenges. Some of my key takeaways were:
IRCTC Trains is a government sector and has a lot of restrictions on train booking. Enhancing user experience in this area was a very interesting challenge.
Since a long time IRCTC (the official website) has had a huge hold over the train booking experience. A large part of the users have a sort of a trust factor when it comes to booking train tickets on another app. There were a lot people who were willing to go through a bad experience only because of the trust factor.
Train tickets get sold over minutes and seconds. There are also Tatkal booking slots which get filled up really fast. Having a robust system to support the user experience is very important when it comes to booking a train ticket.
There is a lot of information which the user needs to consume when booking a ticket in a short span of time. The visual design and hierarchy is very important as it would aid in booking a ticket faster.
Train tickets are booked by people across all age groups and categories. The information needs to be easy to understand and the journey should be seamless.