Map App for Public Restrooms
A side project with a goal to solve one of the humans' biggest issues - finding public restrooms with no rush.
After using 3 years observing and interviewing many residents and tourists in NYC, I designed and prototyped this map app (still in prototype stage) for people in NYC to find some public restrooms at nearby hotels, public open spaces, retailers, etc. without rush and wait.
Finding a public restroom in New York City is always a problem for tourists or even for NYC residents when they go to some unfamiliar neighborhoods. Sometimes, people have to buy a cup of coffee or grab some snacks to get the password or permission to use the restroom. But what if there is no store open nearby? What if there is already a long line waiting for one Starbucks restroom in front of you? What should people do?
There are many public restrooms in the city, but Google maps or touristic maps do not provide this tiny but valuable information. Therefore, I would like to build a mobile app that shares this information, the public restrooms in NYC and where to find them.
- to verify if it is the real problem
This observation is about 3 years. Every time I go to some touristy places in New York, there are always long lines for the restrooms in some famous chain stores, like Starbucks and Bloomingdale's at Soho, New York. And just within or with a block away, there are some retailers and hotels providing free public restrooms without lines and with much cleaner and better environment! I notice many of them waiting in Starbucks and Bloomingdale's are tourists. And most people who use restrooms at those 'hidden" locations are locals.
When people come into the store for the restroom and see that long line, they would hesitate to wait for it or find another place. But they usually end up waiting in that long line after checking their phones because they cannot find other nearby restrooms on Google or Yelp these apps.
I interviewed 5 residents (including both newcomers and long-time through my network) and 5 tourists (found them on the street) at the beginning of this product. Those were all in-person interviews. Each interview was about 5 to10 minutes. Most questions were focused on if they had this experience before, where it happened, and how they solved this situation.
Persona & their journey map
After user research, I summarized the insights and designed 2 personas for this product. The followings are their pain points.
1. Tourists -
• Not easy to find public restrooms in NYC – Want to know where the nearest public restrooms are. It would be better if he can know how long the wait is.
• Spend too much time finding and waiting in line to use restroom – Want to shorten the time for this need
2. NYC residents (Newcomers/ not in their neighborhoods)
• Spends money only because of using the restroom – Not to spend money on this issue
• Not easy to find public restrooms inside the buildings, like hotels, libraries, and department stores – Don’t have to find the direction in the buildings when in rush
• No sanitary receptacles at some public restrooms – Find the right restrooms for women's needs
A long line of waiting for a restroom in Starbucks at Soho, while within a block there is a nice hotel providing restrooms without line
User Journey Map
Prototype & Test
User flows & Wireframe
I listed the user flows first to clarify every step. Then I used pen and paper to draw the wireframe and write down all the details on each page.
Usability testing round 1 - Pen and Paper
I tested this wireframe with 2 people who are primary users and observed them while having the tests to gather insights. After the tests, I interviewed them about the experience and how they felt.
Medium-fidelity prototype - Figma
After gathering and analyzing the feedback from the first usability testing, I improved some interactions and details, added more information, and changed some user flows to make the whole experience more intuitive.
Usability testing round 2 - Figma
By using Figma, this prototype is clickable on-screen so that this usability testing was by using mobile phones to test. Same as the first test, I observed them while having the test, both in-person and screen tracking.
Prototype and interactions
The app is still in progress and will be updated when more progress is made.