Co-operative digital service design

Hundreds of millions of trips are taken on public transport organized by HSL each year. HSL aims to achieve an excellent customer experience by designing such smooth and easy services that you don’t even notice you’re using them. Thus, creating an effortless and coherent user experience in HSL’s digital channels has been at the core of our cooperation. (iPhone X) (iPhone X) fi helsinki ohjeet(iPhone X)

HSL in short


The goal of the co-operation was to design an even smoother and more cohesive customer experience in HSL’s digital channels.


We developed HSL's services with the customer's needs in focus. Our aim was to maintain constant development and customer insights at the core of everything.


In a short time, we developed a number of operating models that will improve the organization's performance, especially in the long run. For example, content was given top priority, and our client understood its importance as part of the customer experience.

Putting the customer's needs first

Managing the customer experience is a real point of competition. The number of different channels and touchpoints between organizations and their customers has multiplied significantly. The larger the project or the more ongoing projects there are, the more important it is to ensure the consistency of the customer experience with systematic work and different processes.

Changing needs, multiple channels in simultaneous use and different situations in which a certain service is used make things even more complex. How can you keep it together, when services are designed and developed in different teams simultaneously? To tackle this challenge, we combined our forces with Hellon to work as a framework agreement partners for HSL from early 2017 to the summer of 2018.

During this time, we took part in the following projects:

  • HSL’s travel card service (e.g. control of the card, checking the card balance, purchasing card balance online)

  • Reittiopas and – national routing guide services

  • Improving Reittiopas after its official release, and researching and designing the walking and cycling services

  • The improvement and usability testing of the city bike service

  • Working on the next version of’s new concept and improving the functionality of the current site and unifying it with Reittiopas

  • Auditing and improving the content of different services with customer-oriented methods

  • Survey application for mobility research (a white label research project)

Building bridges between interest groups

Our team worked closely with designing multiple digital services for HSL. Our work included everything from holistic service design to concept design and from user experience design to visual design and user interfaces. The majority of the projects focused on the constant development of existing services (for example Reittiopas and the city bike service,, and campaign sites), but with some projects, we have created the service all the way from the concept level.

At the core of all our design work at HSL has been involving different interest groups as much as possible, listening to the customers' needs, and securing a coherent customer experience within the digital services. The operational environment offered some challenges because HSL services affect a large group of people and services related to public transportation provoke a lot of feelings and opinions. One good way of hearing out interest groups is to involve users in the planning process.

To develop the walking and cycling guiding routes of Reittiopas we included opinions from interest groups to better determine our most crucial goals. We used workshops, background surveys, and interviews. We then went forward with our observations by producing user stories to back up our concept design. Additionally, we did some further concept design and planning of Reittiopas functionalities.

In a traffic planning project that researches the way customers use public transport we designed and created a survey app as a data acquisition tool. In the survey, we used user tests to create a survey prototype and later validate and test the actual application. (Laptop with HiDPI screen)

In addition to projects, we worked in order to implement consistent design practices by creating UI and UX libraries for HSL. Designing a good user interface requires consistency and predictability. The user needs to be able to trust that similar elements function in the same manner in different situations and that the same things are performed with the same elements in different places. The UI Library answers to these needs, whereas in the UX Library we have included all user interface elements used in different services and applications in a clean and coherent manner.

We also began working towards a more holistic content design approach: our Service Design Lead and Content Designer started working with HSL’s communications team in order to consult and facilitate the auditing of the current content, as well as educate them on creating more customer-oriented material. The goal was to find more suitable processes and ways of working to tackle the problems with content design and management. On top of this, the goal was to create an editorial staff within HSL to take care of the content of their digital channels.

Our team of designers worked closely with HSL's other design partners, and with the technological solutions department of HSL. In HSL projects we supported client representatives working in different roles, e.g. concept owners, product owners, and business owners. We helped them prioritize and write user stories, define fragments of wholes, and facilitate discussions between development teams so that the use of different models of agile development has been possible in different project teams. Frantic acted as a bridge-builder between design and technical development.

The work of a change agent never ends

Our cooperation with HSL greatly improved our client’s everyday activities in a very short time. Our role could be described as one of a change agent, because we integrated many operations models into our client’s everyday process that greatly improved the organization’s activity, especially in the long run. Prototype validation created results that couldn’t have been produced otherwise.

Content was given top priority, and the client understood its importance for the customer experience. People from different departments of the organization communicate and work together more, and everyone works towards the same goal. Agile planning was embedded into the work practices and also brought in as a part of Scrum development. Most importantly, choices are no longer made with technique or process in mind, but the customer is always the basis of all decision-making.

Comment from the expert

As a resident and daily user of HSL’s public transit services, working with this particular client hit close to home. My personal goal was to keep HSL’s diverse clientele at the heart of each service we helped design.

With this in mind, much of my work was an exercise in systems analysis, breaking down large processes into reusable parts and creating a sense of consistency across a multitude of platforms and technological solutions. This balancing act was challenging as well as rewarding and I hope that with our team’s contribution, we have affected some positive change in people’s lives.

–Liisa Benmergui, Service Design Lead, Frantic


  • Analysing and defining user needs and business goals
  • Determining user stories
  • Co-design/co-creation workshops
  • Designing customer journeys
  • Concept modeling and auditing
  • Conceptual prototyping and UX prototyping
  • Prototype validation with users using different interview methods (digital surveys, interest group interviews, hallway testing)
  • Creating a user experience / user interface library
  • Usability testing: user testing and expert testing, heuristic analysis
  • Content auditing


  • Digital service design
  • The coaching of design methods
  • The implementation of agile development practices
  • Concept design
  • User experience design
  • User interface design
  • Visual design
  • Content design
  • Technical planning and execution

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