The idea for starting up PrestoPain came about while looking for a local example of poor usability to use as a case study. Two friends suggested Presto and shared stories of their frustrations with it. We investigated, and sure enough Presto seemed to be an excellent example of poor usability. We were unsettled that a very expensive public service is so frustrating for its users. It was supposed to be user-centric.
We think Presto has great potential, but it should be easier to use. Our goal is to highlight the pain points and recommend ways to address them. As user experience (UX) folks, this is what we do professionally. PrestoPain is a labor of love. We’ve decided to remain anonymous for now, so that the focus stays on the pain and how to fix it, instead of on us as individuals.
PrestoPain on Twitter has become a lightning rod for frustrated citizens to share their pain and tell their stories. There are a lot of frustrated people. This gives them a place to vent, and it gives us a way to gather rich user data for analysis. We also gather data from Presto’s Facebook page, where many of the comments on their posts are in fact complaints from frustrated users, Reddit, and other sources.
We’ve taken a humorous approach to this for a couple of reasons. One is that humor is a good way to make people feel at ease and share their stories. A giggle goes a long way in engaging people. The other is that this is essentially a “first-world problem” – it’s crazy-making but at the end of the day it’s just a frustrating payment card and we shouldn’t get too serious about it.
People use the hashtag #PrestoPain when telling a story so that everyone watching the topic sees their input. We often see people sharing their PrestoPain tweets with Jim Watson, OC Transpo, and Diane Deans. People also tweet their stories directly to us at @PrestoPain. There are a few longer stories shared on this website.
One nice outcome of PrestoPain is that people are helping each other out. For example, someone tweeted which keys to press if you’re calling Presto to get to a real person. People are empathizing with each other – one person tweeted about their nervousness with using their Presto card. Another checked in to find out how it went.
PrestoPain’s ultimate definition of success is it’s own redundancy. Let’s cure the causes of the pain and give this a happy ending.