“For Deutsche Bahn, as a successful services company, it is essential to have an innovative and consistent user experience that impresses our customers – both private and business – as much as our own employees,” says Karsten Henze, Head of CI/CD and Creation at DB. This is because users have become more demanding and are no longer willing to accept any compromises in their interaction with technology. This applies to all digital solutions – from conventional software, through mobile apps and websites, to digital displays. At DB Station&Service, for example, small, easy-to-use apps simplify the everyday tasks of the staff. Forms for technical checks are now immediately available on their smartphones, whereas previously they had to be completed on paper and subsequently transferred to the computer in the office. The apps render the paper and subsequent transfer process superfluous and also enable photos of any damage to be added directly.
User experience (UX) refers to a person’s emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system or service. (Source: Wikipedia)
“For the users, digital solutions must offer a high utility value, they must be easy (and also enjoyable) to operate,” says Gabriel Huber, who is responsible for Mobile & User Experience at DB Systel. A successful user experience is the result of intensive collaboration between all disciplines relating to design and software development and, in particular, must be capable of measurement by means of user feedback. One essential key to this is the “user-centric design process” in which the actual users and their needs are consistently put in the spotlight. A good user experience also strengthens identification with the company.
In the projects, the requesters, concept and design engineers and the developers and testers collaborate closely from the start on an interdisciplinary basis. The project teams use methods such as the creation of personas, user tests or “customer journeys” that throw more light on the points at which the user comes into contact with the products, systems and services. Results from design thinking workshops, for example, are a useful addition. “Everyone is faced here with new – and, I think, exciting – challenges, such as integrating the various viewpoints,” continues Huber.
The “User Experience Consulting” team that was founded more than two years ago at DB Systel offers support in this respect, above all thanks to its expertise in user research, UX design and visual designs. The experts design cross-discipline user interfaces, for example, and accompany the implementation from the initial prototypes through to the finished solution. The results, such as the first usable prototype user interfaces, style guides and standards, are developed in close contact with the customer. In the user research, the needs of the users are recorded, for example, by means of questionnaires or studies.
The user experience team also collaborates with numerous colleagues throughout the Group on the future “digital self” of Deutsche Bahn. The reuse of a uniform system across all departments for both business and end customers is an essential component of a digital strategy for Deutsche Bahn, because this continues to develop further with every new project and every new experience. “This year we want above all to intensify the collaboration in the field of digital design strategy and make new approaches available to as many projects as possible,” explain Henze and Huber in unanimous agreement.
Across all output devices, from smartphone and tablet to smart watch, desktop and web applications, a consistent multi-screen user experience should emerge. “Software should offer business processes and digital services the best possible support and give them an accessible structure. It should also behave in a modern and innovative manner without detracting from the essentials,” says Julian Schwarz from the user experience team. By means of intuitive and consistent cross-system operating and design concepts, for example, not only the training costs can be reduced in the case of solutions for employees. Time is also saved in everyday working procedures because, for example, input errors occur less frequently and the applications are easier to use. This also provides better support to business processes, in a directly measurable way.
The positive feedback from users, customers and project personnel demonstrates that the implementation is worthwhile for everyone involved. The solutions created are accessible and can be experienced much sooner by all those concerned, which ultimately results in better solutions. One example of this is the app THOR.