Workshop Challenges Urban Icons to Create "My Perfect Transit App"

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You Generated Great Ideas

Brainstorming in-person, online, and via text, our Urban Agents submitted over 600 ideas for improving how we get around our city! We collected ideas about how your app could help you plan your next trip, have a smooth ride, adjust to change, learn from others, feel productive, and more. (Check them out at Urban Agent HQ)


We Sorted Ideas into Feature Categories

By grouping similar concepts, we formed 71 categories that describe potential feature areas. From "Summarize Whole Trip" to "Collect Rider Feedback" and "Learn My Priorities" to "Donate Rides," these groups expressed the wide range of possibilities for our app.


Urban Icons "Shop" for Their Features

We invited our most engaged brainstormers to join us as Urban Icons at a Design Workshop. We challenged them to choose their top five must-have features to create their ideal, completely custom transit app. It was tough to choose only five!


Sketching Our Apps' Screens

Using their custom feature lists as guides, Urban Icons drew key screens to explain how their apps would work for them.

Pitching "My Perfect Transit App"

With only two minutes on the clock, each Icon told the story of their custom-made app, explaining how they would use their features to make getting around awesome.


Jacqui's CTA App: Get me from point A to point B

Mark's Using Time: For somebody who rides the CTA everyday

Em's Transit Snob: For people who know where they're going and how to get there

George's Urban Agent


Theora's Learning App

Annemarie's Fake It Real: Look like an expert even when I'm not

Dan's Tick Tock Transit: For total efficiency

Melissa's Chicago Transit Buddy


Rex's Routebook: Uses statistics & social networking to make your trip more predictable & fun

Pete's Spice It Up: Transit game

Alex's My CTA: Because it's all about me

Liz's Chicago Transit Pro: For the highly-productive, expert know-it-all, Chicago transiter


Build Phase Coming Soon


During this next phase, our design team and development partners will work to code your ideas into a transportation app for the Chicago region. There will be more ways to participate during prototyping and beta testing, so stay tuned!

If you haven't already, sign up to receive our project updates.

RSVP for Brainstorm Open Studio

During the Design Phase, you can participate online and in person. Join us at our Chicago studio to meet other Agents, learn more about brainstorming, and create great ideas. Your work will be posted on Agent HQ where the world can comment and vote for favorites!

6:00-8:00 PM  |  February 11th, 18th, 25th & March 4th  |  2864 N Milwaukee Ave

You're invited to attend as many live brainstorms as you'd like. Please complete the RSVP below and we'll save you a seat. Feel free to RSVP for one date now and come back later to RSVP for another.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Brainstorm Open Studio RSVP

Name *
Date(s) *
Please select the brainstorm(s) you are planning to attend.
Are you bringing anyone with you?

Research Workshop Turns Your Stories into Design Directions

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You Sent In Your Stories

Great work, Agents! With your participation, we learned a ton about how people know where they are, get where they’re going, and try to have a great day along the way. In the Designing Chicago research phase, Urban Agents submitted over 300 navigation tools, pro tips, and best and worst transportation moments. (Check them out at Urban Agent HQ!)

These stories came from the real experts- people finding their ways around Chicago and cities across the world.

Urban Icons Assemble

Each of these stories could spark great ideas for our app, but we wanted to distill these experiences and prioritize a few key directions for the design phase. So we invited our most observant, empathetic, and imaginative Agents to join us as Urban Icons at a Research Workshop.

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Fueled by pizza and candy, the Icons worked in small groups to analyze the stories.

How Might We... 

Icons developed How Might We statements (HMWs) based on Agents’ stories. These are open-ended statements of possibility, describing an area for potential change.

Our Urban Icons developed over 150 How Might We statements! In the design phase, we’ll be using some of these HMWs to generate lots of ideas for features for our app, so we needed them to be broad enough to encourage creativity but narrow enough to help refine our focus.

Sorting & Prioritizing Design Directions

As a large group, we put all of the HMWs up on the wall, found connections between ideas, and sorted all of these possibilities into categories. We knew that our Design Phase wouldn’t be able to address all 32 categories, so we asked the Icons to vote for the highest priority areas of opportunity.

These areas will help focus the design phase around the most important problems (and greatest opportunities!) we found in the research phase.

Design Phase Coming Soon

That was the end of the Research Workshop, but there's still more to do with Designing Chicago!


We’ll kick off the Design Phase in February with a series of brainstorm challenges for our app's features. Whether you participated in the Research Phase or are new to the team, we're excited to see your ideas! If you haven't already, sign up to receive the Brainstorms via email.

Assignments Recap

One more week to submit to the Research Phase!
In preparation for the research workshop, we'll be printing all of the stories on Urban Agent HQ on Sunday December 2nd. We want to include your transit tools, pro tips, and best and worst moments, so please submit them soon!

How to Submit your Stories
Take a picture that relates to your story.
Attach the picture in an email to
Name your story in the subject line.
Answer the Assignment questions (see below) in the email body.
Send! You'll get a confirmation email in a few minutes from Urban Agent HQ.
Repeat with a separate email and photo for each story.

Assignment One: Observe Your Commute
Identify transit tools on your commute - things that help you know where you are, and get where you're going. Answer these questions:
1. What information is this tool giving you? Why are you using it right now, and what's helpful about it?
2. What information do you really want to know, in this moment, that this tool isn't giving you?

Assignment Two: Become a Newbie
Step outside of your regular routine and go somewhere new. Send in the transit tools that help you find your way along this new journey. Answer these questions: (same as Assignment One)
1. What information is this tool giving you? Why are you using it right now, and what's helpful about it?
2. What information do you really want to know, in this moment, that this tool isn't giving you?

Assignment Three: Collect Pro Tips
Share your expertise and collect tips from the pros. What are the secret commuting tricks that help you feel like a professional city dweller? Answer these questions:
1. What is the Pro Tip?
2. What benefit do you get from following this Pro Tip?

Assignment Four: Share Your Best and Worst
What are your transportation highs and lows? The very best, and very worst moments from among all your transit memories? Answer these questions:
1. What happened?
2. Why was it the Best or Worst? 

Spanish translations for Assignments 1 + 2 are available

It might have gone a little under the radar as we got our process in sync, but we are now adding Spanish translations to each assignment video as they appear (usually about a week after it 'airs').

We've been working with a fantastic translator, Maria Paula Loayza (an undergrad design student at the School of the Art Institute) and with her help we'll be interpreting any Spanish submissions to the assignments.

So if you have spanish speaking (or reading for that matter) friends, please suggest they view our first two assignments.