Information and Systems
My publication 'Ticketing' explores the design of national rail train tickets and the problems associated with the design of these tickets. There have been thousands of complaints due to passenger confusing regarding the written information on tickets so I looked into how they could be redesigned in both a digital and physical/analogue form.
I was initially really confused by our brief and really struggled to understand the meaning of an interface and how they are incorporated into my daily life. In the end I interpreted them as being any interaction I have with anything throughout the day so made a brief list of everything I did on Sunday. I found that I begun to notice all the menial actions that I would normally not think about; this made me consider their influence within my life and whether I could go day to day without these interfaces. Making a cup of tea, for example, is something that I do every day but don't ever think about.
I chose to consider two interfaces in more detail; a train ticket and ordering from a menu. I was really interested by the visual aesthetics of a train ticket and how they are automatically recognisable because of their colour. I also wanted to look at the information and layout of information printed on a ticket and how if we disrupt this information or change the typeface on a ticket whether or not this makes it illegible and inefficient to use.
I'd really like to play around with the aesthetics of a train ticket - I might go to a ticket station and ask if they have any unprinted tickets and/or any used and void tickets that I can get for free so I can play around with psychically manipulating the object. I would also like to play around with digital and analogue illustration.
When it came to presenting our ideas in class we had to display them on a large piece of paper and discuss the ways in which our different ideas could be linked and compared. Our tutor explained that this process is a really important process in the development of ideas, especially when you are working within a group; you need to be able to visually represent your thought process and present your ideas clearly and logically. I found this process really interesting as it helped me to understand that even if I can confidently explain ideas if people are confused by my ideas then it becomes useless. This will definitely influence how I display some of my work - I NEED TO WORK ON HOW I PRESENT MY IDEAS VISUALLY BY USING THE MOST APPROPRIATE VISUALS.
In the same workshop we were able to look through some existing publications; I found this really helpful as at this point I was really stuck and confused about how I could visually represent the interfaces I wanted to focus on. Some key advice that she gave us was to 'just experiment with our interface' - take photos, make visuals, write about our interface etc and see where this leads us.
I did some research into the typeface used on printed train tickets and found two that are very similar and the same to what is used on National Rail tickets. 'Hypermarket' is a similar style but quite scrappy and disjointed whereas 'Ticketing' has more of a pixel structured format with cleaner lines.
"Ticketing is a monospaced font loosely based on the pixel style lettering of electronic ticketing, designed for clarity when cheaply printed at small sizes. Ticketing, however, has a larger x-height than is often found on ticket type. The glyphs were drawn on a square grid 13 wide by 22 high, though some accented characters are taller or extend below the baseline. The Space is a full character width, but the Non-Breaking Space is set to half the width of the glyphs."
After having done some research into the national rail train tickets I found out information about the placement and meaning of specific information essential to the function of the ticket and the ability of a ticket machine to read it. I would like to explore how I can change this or alter it slightly a tickets functionality and readability when its system/grid is disrupted. I am going to go get some blank train tickets tomorrow and play with these by cutting them up and arranging them in different ways, by painting and drawing on them and then scanning them in a digitally manipulating them. The process of changing the way a ticket could look visually will be the content of my publication alongside the information below.
- Class: Class of travel
- Ticket type: Up to 16 characters. SUPERSAVER RTN, shown here, is a common type: a cheap-rate ticket for longer journeys, valid for 1 month but with time restrictions. Hundreds of different ticket types have been seen; many have been short-lived.
- Portion indicator: Travel tickets can be singles (SGL), the outward portion of a return (OUT) or the return portion of a return (RTN).
- Status code: If this field is blank, one adult is travelling at full fare. Any form of concession causing the fare to be reduced will be shown here
- Date : Always in DD.MMM.YY format. Months are rendered as follows: JNR, FBY, MCH, APR, MAY, JUN, JLY, AUG, SEP, OCT, NOV, DMR.
- Advance dating indicator: If an A is present next to the date, the ticket was bought before the date of travel. Standard travel tickets can be bought up to one year in advance.
- Serial number: Number unique to each individual transaction.
- Machine number
- Magnetic strip encoding indicator
- National Location Code : The National Location Code (NLC) of the station or issuing point at which the machine is based.
- REGION LETTER : Shows the historic region with which the NLC is associated
- Window number
- "From" station: Station of origin for that portion of the journey. Restricted to 16 characters. An asterisk was placed after names of up to 14 characters, to prevent fraudulent amendments to station names (for example, "CAMBRIDGE" to "CAMBRIDGE HEATH").
- Validity indicator : A description of the conditions of validity, again to a maximum of 16 characters. Tickets whose validity restrictions were complex, as in this example, showed SEE RESTRCTIONS
- Payment method
- "To" station : Destination station for that portion of the journey.
- Route : Again restricted to 16 characters.
- Time : Time of issue of the ticket, in 24-hour mode. The letters MIN may appear to the right of here if the ticket has had a minimum fare applied.
I have done some experimentation with different visual manipulations of a train ticket. I played with text size and content as well as the layout and typeface to explore the existing visual identity and legibility of a train ticket and how this can be changed. I had a lot of fun with this process; I hated a lot of them and liked a lot of others so it was interesting to see how I could combine different digital and analogue processes to create interesting page layouts.
Final Crit Feedback
By the end of the project I was much happier with it; I like how I presented it in the card holder style slip and how it was bound using the orange card - I think these aesthetics represented the theme I was trying to portray quite nicely and made it a nicer object to handle and look at. If I were to continue developing this publication I would like to print and bind it properly and maybe consider designing a digital version seen as this would link nicely to the theme of digital development that I was exploring - some kind of application would be a cool way to represent my idea even if I could just produce screen shots on a mobile device.
The feedback I received from my peers was positive where they said that the styling and design was well considered and that the imagery and content is backed up by good research points from the articles I looked into. To Improve my work Cath suggested coming up with an even clearer 'call to action' at the end of the publication to better sum up my research and findings and discuss in greater detail. I think this would be fairly easy to do so I would definitely like to explore ways that I can develop my work even further. I would like to maybe change the style of the publication and work a bit more on the cover design.
I went to a magazine/publication shop in Angel called Magculture so get a better understanding and insight into the design and style of some other printed publications to give me some inspiration for my own project. The photos below show some of the page spreads that I found most interesting and that I think could work in the context of my project. I thought the use of colour and text flow across double page spreads was particularly interesting as it established an element of continuity which I find visually appealing. The consistency of type face across pages is clearly really important and I found that in some of the magazines that used a selection of different type were difficult to understand and take in.
The page spreads that explore both image and text are also really interesting and clearly very well considered; the text reflects the style and colours of the image really well
The pages where a colour filter has been used over text and image stood out to me as colour is something I'd really like to explore in my project by looking at how if we change the visual aspects of pre-established and well known objects (in particular the train ticket) it becomes unidentifiable and slightly confusing - this may not be the case but I want to experiment with this theme.
I received mixed feedback from my interim crit which initially really confused me. My tutor said that the images I've created are interesting and that I have explored interesting ways to visually disrupt a train ticket but that my publication had no real unifying purpose; to change this she suggested considering how I can create a narrative through my work and give it a purpose. I thought about creating a narrative through a journey; monitoring passengers journeys, distances, prices of tickets, the person behind the ticket etc, but I am concerned this might turn into a travel journal type thing which I am keen to avoid.
This massively confused me as I felt the feedback was really broad and didn't really help me to think about how I could redesign and rework the content. However one thing Cath said was to consider how I could create my ideal train ticket and to think about what I think about train tickets and how I use them. This encouraged me to think about the design quality of a ticket, the problems associated with it and then how I could redesign it to make it more legible and so that the information on a train ticket is arranged in a more understandable and efficient way to reduce the confusion of passengers.
I did some research into the problems surrounding the design of a ticket and how over the last few years complaints over train fines have massively increased due to passengers not understanding what trains they are allowed on, the times they can travel at, the sections they can sit in, the ticket price they select on the ticket machine etc and concluded that this is down to the design of the ticket and the ticket machine. The information is not arranged in a sensible way as all elements seem to be arranged randomly, there is no sense of information hierarchy, more than one ticket is printed for one journey, the information printed is vague and doesn't explain the restrictions of the ticket etc. These are elements I would like to explore in the redesign of a train ticket and this is the purpose my publication will take. I will also still be able to incorporate the visuals I have produced to represent the confusion associated with this interface.
I have found a few articles which explore the design of tickets and highlight some of the problems I have identified which can be seen below
Some of the main problems I identified with the current design of the train ticket are that:
- Vague and confusing information confuses costumers
- More than one ticket is printed for one journey
- Ticket machines don't explain the validity of different tickets
- No sense of information hierachy
- Costumers fined for travelling on the wrong train
I tried to identify and represent these problems within my publication and establish a design that solves or addresses these problems.
I've spent some time reconsidering how I can slightly alter the design of this publication to make it slightly more interesting and relevant to the concept. Based on the train ticket I have decided to make a concertina booklet instead of a regular book - based on a foldable ticket collection. I think this will really heighten the concept of my idea to redesign the ticket so the user is not left with hundreds of annoying tickets. I will still use the card holder I made to present the booklet. I may also experiment with rounding off the edges of the card to again really represent the form of a train ticket but I don't want to ruin the professionalism of the print - we will see - I may experiment with rubbish paper before and see how it looks before I test it on the real print.