Using remote online research to explore the London underground

User Experience & Usability

The challenge

London tube map

The London underground serves up to 5 million passengers every day, with over 543 trains operating at peak times. Whilst accommodating thousands of individuals commuting across the capital, it is evident that there are pain points in the user journey which could be improved.
The main objective of the research was to produce a customer journey map highlighting specific high and low points, as well as opportunities to improve the commuter experience. Whilst capturing naturalistic behaviour, the study needed to offer flexibility to busy participants and to optimise resources to meet time and budget demands.

What we did

System Concepts chose to use an online platform to launch, moderate and analyse the research. Our UX consultants recognised that a remote approach allowed the study to be conducted in a short space of time, capturing insights through multiple tasks and providing convenient access for participants across multiple devices.

To meet the research objectives, we launched three online activities, which were staggered over a period of one week. Thorough planning ensured that explicit instructions were provided to guide each activity, with tools such as counterbalancing used to match the level of control available in a lab environment. As they would in person, our researchers built a rapport with each participant by liking and commenting on individual posts. Effective moderation which considered the timing of actions such as reminder emails, ensured that participants remained engaged whilst providing in-depth feedback throughout.

The main activity exploring the user journey was a diary study, which participants could complete on their commute. Working flexibly, our researchers were able to moderate and analyse entries whilst the activity was still live, which allowed a follow-up discussion to focus on one of the main pain points in the journey. Allowing participants to ideate together, with the chance to upload supporting media, led to a list of prioritised opportunities to include in the customer journey map.


Our final customer journey map consolidated feedback from all participants into a single artefact which could be utilised and progressed over time. The research approach meant that participants had been relaxed and open about their experiences, and initial ideas to improve the user journey aimed to prompt further opportunities to address the needs of commuters. A high-level report included additional user needs uncovered on the platform.

A visual customer journey map showing the actions, emotions and opportunities in the commuting journey using the London underground’

Demonstrating expertise in planning, moderation techniques and user management was critical to the success of this remote research project. Yet an online approach also satisfied the project needs including optimised resources and naturalistic insights. The time and money saved by conducting the study remotely meant that our researchers could effectively monitor and follow-up on posts from each individual, gathering granular detail whilst promoting engagement. The contextual approach also minimised effects from time restrictions and biases which can often reduce the validity of results in a lab-based environment. By relying on user accounts completed in a naturalistic setting, we were confident that our findings were robust and honest.

Speech bubbleOur UX team conduct remote research using several tools and methodologies. Please get in touch if you have a new challenge for us!

Participant testimonial

“It looked professional. The diary keeping bit was really straightforward and nicely organised.” Research participant

“It was really simple to know what tasks you had left to complete. I like that you received an email notification when an action became live as this meant that you did not have to keep checking the site and it didn’t feel like so much of a chore.” Research participant

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