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5 User-centered design is distinguished by a core focus on a userâs needs and experiences with a tool. In a user-centered design process, the process cannot start with the final output predetermined. A user-centered design process must start with research on user needs and must continually iterate to adjust outputs based on the feedback of users. Accordingly, the project team conducted this project in three phases: â¢ Phase I (Tasks 1â4): Inquiry. This phase of the project defined the needs of transit agencies and proposed preliminary solutions to meet those needs. Key tasks in this process included qualitative research (interviews), analysis of needs, development of initial tool ideas to respond to needs, and prioritization of potential tools (see Figure 1). â¢ Phase II (Tasks 5â8): Design. This phase of the project responded to the needs of transit agencies by producing tools that help them advance their sustainability goals, projects, and programs. â¢ Phase III (Task 9): Dissemination. This phase of the project educated transit agency staff about the new tools in an afternoon workshop at the APTA Sustainability and Multimodal Planning Workshop in Minneapolis, August 2017. Design Principles â¢ The project team envisioned creating a set of tools according to the following design principles: â Attractive, visually unified design â User-focused problem solving â Simple platforms for tools â Clear message about the intended audience(s) and purpose(s) â Implementation focus 2.1 Phase I: Inquiry Qualitative Research (Interviews) The team began the project by talking with transit agency sustainability staff to identify the most pressing needs they face and collect ideas for the tools that would be most useful to address these needs. They invited staff from 18 transit agencies to participate in one-hour interviews, and 13 agreed to speak with the team. As Figure 2 shows, the researchers spoke with a mix of transit agencies of different sizes that were at different stages in implementing their sustainability programs. C H A P T E R 2 User-Centered Design Process
6 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency Figure 1. Process for identifying needs and proposing tools. Figure 2. Size and sustainability program status of the transit agencies interviewed.
User-Centered Design Process 7 Interview Findings From the interviews, researchers found the following: â¢ Sustainability programs are in different stages of development. Some transit agencies have done more than others, but no one interviewed felt like their transit agency had sustainability completely figured out. â¢ Sustainability strategies range widely, and can include greening major capital projects, internal sustainability efforts focused on transit agenciesâ facilities and operations, formal sustainability policies and programs, and setting targets and collecting data. â¢ Most sustainability programs focus on environmental sustainability, though staff under- stand sustainability has environmental, economic, and social dimensions. â¢ Many transit agencies are interested in communicating the broader sustainability benefits of transit, which can reduce driving and anchor compact neighborhoods. â¢ Sustainability programs are usually driven at the staff level rather than the leadership level. â¢ Sustainability staff use a hodgepodge of tools and frameworks to set targets and track progress. Additional detail on the interview process and findings can be found in Appendix D of this report. Identification of Core Needs (Analysis and Desirability Check) Each of the sustainability staff was interviewed about what tools could help them do their jobs better and advance sustainability within their transit agencies. The needs and tools discussed fell into three buckets: Quantification. Transit agencies need tools to quantify and evaluate different sustainability strategies. This includes both tools that provide in-depth information on specific strategies (for example, alternative fuels and vehicles, sustainable construction materials, lighting improve- ments, gray water recycling, capital projects that reduce driving) as well as higher-level tools that measure and compare return on investment across a variety of strategies. Governance. Transit agencies with mature sustainability programs need guidance on inte- grating sustainability throughout every area of their organization and culture, while those that are looking to grow their programs want to know what next steps should be and how they should measure their progress. Governance tools could include high-level guidance on forming, grow- ing, and managing sustainability programs or targeted guidance on tackling common barriers to addressing sustainability in budgeting and procurement, or within specific departments of a transit agency. Communication. Staff often struggle to make the case for sustainability to decision makers, and transit agencies face challenges communicating their sustainability successes to the public. Transit agencies with sustainability programs often collect copious amounts of data to measure their progress, but they need tools to help distill this data into compelling graphics. Tools that identify templates or best practices for communicating sustainability successes or the broader sustainability benefits of transit could also help build support for sustainability initiatives or for transit in general. These three needs were further divided into seven topic areas that individual tools could address: Quantification 1. Costs and benefits of specific sustainability decisions 2. ROI and budgeting for sustainability strategies
8 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency Governance 3. Integrating sustainability into governance 4. Sustainable procurement 5. Sustainability program development roadmaps Communication 6. Tracking and reporting 7. Communicating success What about Climate Adaptation? No discussion of sustainability for transit agencies can be complete without some consid- eration of climate adaptation and resilience. While the initial consultation with the panel did not identify adaptation as an area where new tools were likely to be needed, the project team nonetheless wanted to provide a survey of tools currently available in the domain of climate adaptation. Appendix E contains the full review of these resources and tools. Feasibility Check (Development of First Iteration Tool Ideas) The team next considered how feasibly they could address each of the need areas. In order to do that, they developed a set of first iteration tool ideas and tested the feasibility of each. The assumption was that these first tool ideas would not ultimately be built, but would serve as test cases to move the design process forward. Team members looked at existing resources and needs in each topic area and developed at least one first iteration tool concept to address key needs. For each topic area, they answered the following key questions: â¢ Transit agency need. What needs do transit agencies face in this topic area? â¢ State of the practice. What tools and resources are already available in this domain? What gaps are there in these resources? â¢ Proposed tool concept(s). What tool or tools might be created to fill gaps and address transit agenciesâ needs? Which transit agencies, or which stakeholders within transit agencies, would likely use the tool? What would be the level of effort to develop the tool? â¢ Key considerations. What knowledge is needed before conducting further work in this topic area? The table below lists the first iteration tool ideas developed. Full details of each tool idea can be found in Appendix A. Prioritize and Propose Tools (Development of Second Iteration Tool Ideas) The first iteration of tools allowed the team to explore a wide range of tool ideas addressing all of the user needs uncovered in interviews. The team used a five step process to evaluate the first iteration tool ideas, identify priorities, and develop second iteration tool ideas: Development Process â¢ Step 1: Team members created a visual representation of each first iteration tool idea. Working with visual representations is a highly effective way to think quickly and creatively. Graphical elements included representations of key stakeholders, diagrams of tool architec- ture, and processes that would be associated with each tool. See Figure 3 for some examples of these graphics.
User-Centered Design Process 9 Tool idea What is it? Topic area General need Green bus fleet tool Spreadsheet-based tool to quantify costs and benefits of different vehicle options Costs and benefits of specific sustainability decisions Quantification Criteria for budget prioritization List of criteria and questions to incorporate into budgeting mechanisms ROI and budgeting for sustainability strategies âGreening the systemâ vs. âgreening the regionâ Spreadsheet to compare benefits of operational improvements with regional benefits of transit (reducing VMT) Case studies of governance models Organizational charts and case studies/best practices for structuring sustainability programs Integrating sustainability into governance Governance Sustainability program road map Case studies and guidance that help transit agencies navigate key decisions in establishing a sustainability program Employee incentive program Case studies of innovative practices in fostering buy-in among employees Lifecycle cost/ROI tool Spreadsheet tool and guidance to help guide decisions when purchasing green buses Sustainable procurement Procurement manual assembly tool Catalog of sample policy text and procurement language to support green bus procurement Interactive self- assessment survey Survey tool that identifies gaps in sustainability programs and potential solutions Sustainability program development roadmaps Assessment manual Guidance document to help transit agencies identify gaps in sustainability programs and potential solutions Sustainability tracking tool Spreadsheet tool that simplifies data collection, metric calculation, and visualization Tracking and reporting Communication Communication best practices Review of best practices among transit agencies that are actively communicating sustainability efforts Communicating success Communication material development tool Interactive tool that helps transit agencies develop interactive graphics or fact sheets to communicate successes Table 1. Summary list of tool ideas by topic area.
10 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency Figure 3. Examples of the graphics that team members created to represent first iteration tools.
User-Centered Design Process 11 â¢ Step 2: In a workshop format, team members explained and discussed each first iteration tool idea. Conversations generated important questions and critical uncertainties about the value of each tool. â¢ Step 3: Each team member was given a limited amount of time to create a second iteration idea by combining parts of other tools. Each team member used his or her own expertise and opinions about the value of tools to generate a new hybrid idea. â¢ Step 4: Team members explained and discussed their second iteration tool ideas. Addi- tional conversations generated further insights about the value of different tools, as well as important questions and critical uncertainties about the value of each tool. â¢ Step 5: Team members voted on the most valuable second iteration tool ideas. Voting was based on team membersâ opinions of the ability of the tool to address an identified need and the likelihood that the tool could be built as part of this project. Three of the tool ideas rose to the top as the most valuable. Figure 3 shows examples of the graphics created in the development process. Second Iteration Tool Ideas The three second iteration tool ideas were as follows: 1. Cost-Benefit Case Study Database. An interactive database of case studies of transit agencies implementing different sustainability strategies. âSustainability strategiesâ would be defined broadly to include both specific actions that transit agencies undertake to make progress toward sustainability targets (e.g., procuring hybrid buses, using energy-efficient lighting) or organizational strategies (e.g., forming an internal sustainability team, hiring a dedicated sustainability staff person). 2. Sustainability Change Management Roadmap. An interactive PDF that is organized around a roadmap that outlines key steps in the process of building a sustainability program. Based on the work that project team members have done with various transit agency sustainability programs, these steps might include the following: â Creating sustainability champions â Communicating agency values â Clarifying expectations â Creating tools for governance â Setting targets and monitoring results 3. Sustainable Bus Fleets: Planning and Procurement Tool. A qualitative and quantitative evaluation tool combining the following: â A fleet planner â A quantitative lifecycle evaluation â A qualitative evaluation of operational factors â A library of procurement language for sustainable bus fleets The team developed mini proposals for each of these three tool ideas in order to answer these questions: â¢ How is the Need for the Tool justified? â¢ Who is the Target Audience? â¢ What are the Form and Main Functions of the Tool? â¢ What Key Questions and Uncertainties remain? â¢ What is the likely Scope of Work and Estimated Level of Effort to create the tool? Mini proposals were developed through a combination of desk-based research and outreach to staff at transit agencies. Appendix B of this report contains the three mini proposals.
12 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency Selection of Tools: Panel Meeting and Workshop At a meeting with the project panel, a group of transit agency experts was selected to guide the project, and the project team presented the second iteration tool concepts, along with the first iteration tool concepts. Discussion and workshop exercises helped to refine the tool concepts presented. During the meeting, the panel arrived at a set of priority tools and tool functions (i.e., func- tions that can be embedded in a larger tool). It was determined that there is some flexibility about how functions are combined in the final tools, but all of the following should be included in the final deliverables: â¢ A meta-tool/reference tool that guides the user in applying existing tools, â¢ A general SROI-TCO-LCCA tool that applies to the broadest possible range of projects and decisions, â¢ A checklist of considerations for budget prioritization processes, â¢ A Sustainability Routemap Tool that serves as a âcontainerâ for guidance on sustainability program development in all areas, â¢ Green procurement barriers (e.g., state laws, board policies) and examples of successful prac- tices to overcome barriers, â¢ Communications guidance on how (communication methods) to pitch what (sustainability benefits) to whom (stakeholders/decision makers), and â¢ A tool that articulates the regional benefits of transit (e.g., reduced emissions, improved public health, and reduced transportation cost burden). Considering the priorities expressed and the available budget, the project team settled on two tools for advancement into Phase II, the design phase: â¢ The Sustainability Routemap. An interactive PDF, similar in feel to a website, that guides the user to improve a transit agencyâs sustainability program through application of change management principles, best practice examples, and references to online tools. â¢ The S+ROI Calculator. An Excel workbook that quantitatively evaluates potential sustain- ability projects in terms of financial, social, and environmental return. 2.2 Phase II: Design For the two tools carried forward into this phase, the team again developed short proposals containing descriptions of functionality, work processes, and visual design concepts. The full proposals for the two tools can be found in Appendix C. Sustainability Routemap The design process for the Sustainability Routemap involved five steps: Step 1: Define Organizing Framework Much of the discussion about the Sustainability Routemap at the panel meeting revolved around how the tool would be organized. Two potential organizing frameworks were: â¢ Principles of change management such as leadership and accountability, and â¢ Transit agency user type such as operations and maintenance personnel or sustainability officer. The team presented these two options in graphics form to participants of the APTA Sustainability Workshop in Austin, Texas, in August 2016.
User-Centered Design Process 13 Participantsâ feedback on prototypes confirmed the following: â¢ The Change Management Organizing Framework, organized by principles such as account- ability and integration, was preferred as the dominant user-facing organizational framework for the tool. â¢ The Transit Agency User Organizing Framework, organized by typical departments and func- tions within a transit agency, was preferred as a secondary organizational framework within the tool. Participants liked the idea of providing a cross-reference to the tool content based on departments and staff functions. â¢ The Sustainability Roadmap Tool fills an important need for transit agencies. (Some partici- pants found the paper prototypes themselves so useful that they asked to take them home!) â¢ Common needs expressed included the following: â Integrating sustainability into transit agency culture and engaging and inspiring employees, â Integrating and coordinating sustainability efforts across agency and department silos, â Gaining the support of leadership, and â Developing the sustainability program (creating a sustainability manager position, sustain- ability plan, metrics, etc.). Figure 4 below shows an early design for the landing page of the tool. Other images used in this step, including the two proposed organizing frameworks, are contained in the tool proposals in Appendix C. Step 2: Prioritize Content After deciding to pursue the principles of change management as the primary organizing framework for the Sustainability Routemap, the team turned to deciding what specific content should be included in the tool. Given the potentially limitless need for information on sustain- ability, the team agreed with the panel to rely mostly on pre-existing content, with a few select Figure 4. Draft landing page for Routemap, organized by Change Management Principles.
14 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency areas targeted for development of new information and guidance by the project team. Using input already received from the panel and from other potential users in previous tasks, along with the project teamâs professional knowledge, a priority list of content to be researched and included in the tool was developed. Step 3: Create Working Prototype of Tool Once initial priorities were established and potential sources of content were identified, the team began to research the content in more depth and produce preliminary content. A subsection of that content was developed and populated in a partial draft version of the tool for user testing. Figure 5 below shows the first two pages of the user testing draft. Step 4: User Testing For user testing, testers were recruited from the project panel and from other transit agency staff interviewed in the early stages of the project (see Appendix D). Testers were invited to a guided interview session to test the tool. Interviews took place March 22â24, 2017, via WebEx. Participants navigated the tool on their desktop and shared their screen with the moderator. Sessions lasted up to one hour, and six participants, all of whom worked in sustainability and environmental plan- ning fields, completed interviews. Some participants had formal sustainability roles, while others were more de facto directors. User testing confirmed that the tool was easily navigable, although a number of opportu- nities to improve the visual design and wayfinding within the tool were identified. Users also responded to the initial content included in the tool and requested additional content. In Figure 5. The first two pages of the user testing draft.
User-Centered Design Process 15 Figure 5. (Continued). particular, some testers wanted to see more information about social and economic aspects of sustainability included in the examples discussed in the tool. Step 5: Draft Final Tool Taking the feedback received in user testing, the team made some key changes to the design of the tool, including the color scheme, landing page, and navigation system. They also researched and added additional content to complete the draft tool. More discussion of the final tool itself is found in Chapter 3 of this report. S+ROI Calculator The S+ROI Calculator is a much simpler tool than the Sustainability Routemap. It required far less effort on research of content and design of visual interface elements than the Sustain- ability Routemap. Still, the same basic process was used for both tools. Step 1: Organizing Framework The first step was to develop a framework diagram that illustrates the inputs, assumptions, and results included in the tool as well as the relationships between them. Figure 6 provides the initial framework. In addition, the team created Figure 7 as an initial mockup for the interface of the tool. Step 2: Working Prototype The next step was to create a draft spreadsheet version of the tool that incorporates the vari- ables, relationships, calculations, and assumptions from the organizing framework. The goal of
16 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency this task was not to produce a final version of the tool, but to produce a version that can be used to gather feedback from user testers in the following step. Step 3: User Testing The team then tested draft versions of the tool with interested transit agency staff drawn from the panel and from the user focus group that was assembled for this project. In contrast to the Sustainability Routemap testing, a simpler self-testing process for the Calculator was used. Six participants were recruited and invited to use the tool to evaluate a project or projects and submit the completed workbook to the project team. Although the team received some help- ful feedback about a few of the input fields in the Calculator, only one participant returned a fully completed workbook along with feedback during the evaluation period. They ultimately received more useful feedback during Phase III (Dissemination). Step 4: Draft Final Tool Using the feedback received from testers, the team created a draft final version of the tool for dissemination. More information about the final tool itself is found in Chapter 3 of this report. 2.3 Phase III: Dissemination (APTA Sustainability and Multimodal Planning Workshop) The project team unveiled a sneak peek of both tools at the 2017 APTA Sustainability and Multimodal Planning Workshop in Minneapolis on Tuesday, August 8. This venue was selected for initial dissemination for the following three main reasons: â¢ The intended audience for both toolsâSustainability Managers at transit agencies and other transit agency staff interested in sustainabilityâwere well-represented at the event, â¢ The event would provide a final opportunity for user testing of the tools before their public release, and Figure 6. Example organizing framework.
User-Centered Design Process 17 â¢ Familiarizing the APTA Workshop attendees with the tools before their release would help to spread the word about the tools. In a 3.5 hour roundtable workshop format, the team introduced both tools and gave attendees time to test them on a computer and discuss in small group formats. Approxi- mately 30â40 people attended. Figure 8 provides an excerpt from the program. Part I: Meet the Sustainability Routemap This section describes the workshop process, experience, and outcomes for the Sustainability Routemap. Process The Sustainability Routemap was designed to help users solve problems and identify oppor- tunities related to change management and integration of sustainability programs into every aspect of transit agenciesâ business. Figure 7. Initial mockup for the interface of the tool.
18 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency To begin, the team asked participants to fill in the blank: âMy agency needs to do ___________ to improve on sustainability.â Participants were then challenged to search the Sustainability Routemap for material that would help answer their questions. While participants worked with the tool, project team mem- bers floated from table to table to answer questions and stimulate discussion. Experience Real differences were noticed in the experience between different types of users. For example, some service planners did not initially understand the purpose of the tool. Sustainability Pro- gram Managers tended to understand the purpose of the tool more quickly. In general, testers fell into three categories: â¢ Those that quickly understood the purpose of the tool and were able to use it without much direction. (Approximately 50%) â¢ Those that understood the purpose of the tool after some discussion and were able to use it with some support. (Approximately 40%) â¢ Transit service planners who, after some discussion, realized that the tool would not help them with their jobs. (Approximately 10%) Table 2 provides examples of participantsâ responses to the initial question and the appli- cable content in the Sustainability Routemap. Outcomes The experience at the workshop highlighted the following three main opportunities for improvement in the Routemap: â¢ Clarify the intended audience. The initial goal was to make the Routemap useful for anyone in a transit agency who wanted to advance sustainability. Through the workshop process, Sustainability Tools Training Workshop 1:45 â 5:15 p.m. Great Lakes C, 4th Floor, Hyatt Regency Minneapolis This workshop will introduce two new sustainability tools and familiarize attendees with their use. Participants will leave the session feeling confident interacting with the tools and ready to apply the tools within their transit agencies. **Please bring your laptop or tablet, if you have one, in order to experiment with the tools.** PART 1: Meet the Sustainability Routemap: Level Up Your Sustainability Program â 1:45-3:30 p.m. What does your sustainability program need to succeed? Performance measures, buy-in from leadership and staff, a solid committee structure; or, all that and more? The brand new Sustainability Routemap, a product of the Transit Cooperative Research Program, is an interactive tool that will help you chart your course to fully integrate sustainability into your agency. The tool will be publicly released later this fall. Come download a sneak peek of the tool on your laptop and learn how to use it! PART 2: Meet the S+ROI Calculator: Evaluate Sustainability Benefits the Easy Way â 3:45-5:15 p.m. Have you ever struggled to quantify the positive impacts of your projects or your transit service on the environment, social equity, or cost savings. The brand new S+ROI Calculator, a product of the Transit Cooperative Research Program, will guide you through simple calculations to help you estimate and describe those benefits. The tool will be publicly released later this fall. Come download a sneak peek of the tool on your laptop and learn how to use it! Figure 8. Excerpt from APTA Sustainability and Multimodal Planning Workshop agenda.
User-Centered Design Process 19 the team realized that the tool is best directed to an audience of sustainability managers. The content of the tool is oriented toward program development much more than addressing technical issues. â¢ Create a stronger orientation experience for first time users. Some users were not sure where to start or what they would find in the tool. The program development and change management foci of the tool were not immediately apparent. The project team realized that there was an opportunity to more clearly explain the content and intended use of the tool in the introductory material. â¢ Fill gaps in material on social sustainability and board engagement. In the development of the tool, the project team heard often that there could be more information on social (as well as economic) aspects of sustainability. The workshop identified some specific types of information on social sustainabilityâas well as other topicsâthat could be integrated in the tool. Part II: Meet the S+ROI Calculator This section describes the workshop process, experience, and outcomes for the S+ROI Calculator. Process The S+ROI Calculator was designed to provide a straightforward quantification approach for lifecycle costs and sustainability costs and benefits of transit systems and transit investments. By design, completing input cells in the workbook will generally require some research on the part of the user. The team asked workshop participants to pick a real or hypothetical transit project to evalu- ate with the tool, working alone or in teams. Since there was no time for research during the workshop, they encouraged users to make up representative numbers for individual inputs and then to revise them later as appropriate. Experience Most users found the Calculator easy to use, even without instruction. The guidelines and labeling in the Calculator itself were generally sufficient to guide users. However, there were some inputs that tended to confuse users and highlighted opportunities for clearer wording. Transit Agency Need Applicable Sustainability Routemap Content How do I change the project delivery process? Information on engaging the procurement division How do I get funding for sustainability? Information on steering committees, change management, and funding ideas Who is the appropriate audience for performance measures, and how should performance be communicated? Information on performance dashboards How do I clarify roles and responsibilities related to sustainability? Information on decision making, leadership, and interagency partnerships How do I work in a transit agency to meet the APTA signatory commitment? Nearly all content was relevant How do I improve service plans for more sustainable service? Not applicable Table 2. Examples of participantsâ responses in relation to applicable Sustainability Routemap content.
20 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency For example: â¢ Some users thought âlifetime of projectâ referred to the length of time that the project was in development, whereas the team intended it to mean the lifetime of the asset itself. â¢ Most users did not know whether or what to input in the âinitial costsâ section. Several participants also highlighted additional opportunities to quantify benefits such as: â¢ Reduced construction waste, â¢ Social cost of carbon, â¢ Reduced stormwater effluent, and â¢ Job creation. Outcomes The workshop highlighted clear and simple opportunities to improve the tool by clarifying some of the terms used. Although there are certainly also opportunities to expand the function- ality of the tool in terms of costs and benefits quantified, that would require additional research and development.