Katarina Blind

Bus Experience in Helsinki

This research and design project explores intracity bus travel across digital and physical touchpoints. It has brought me a lot of joy — and motion sickness.


Project lead (product design and thinking, research)


Initally none (now design team at Helsinki Public Transit)


10 weeks (currently in implementation)

Bus Experience in Helsinki

Role: Project lead (product design and thinking, research)

Team: Initally nonw (now design team at Helsinki Public Transit)

Time frame: 10 weeks (currently in implementation)


Taking local busses is rarely an enjoyable experience and often marked by stress and worry.

In Helsinki, especially international people face even more issues by not being familiar with the environment and customs. A bus can simply drive by you if you don't know how to make it stop.


I believe that by focusing on improving the experience of taking busses and addressing the needs of people new to HSL transit, it will help the City of Helsinki achieve its goal of making car ownership unnecessary for most inhabitants by 2050.


Discover more about the project on its project website.


I pitched my project to Helsinki's public transit company and they are currently implementing it.

Key learnings

Understanding the general situation

Public transportation moves more people at once leading to reduced noise, air pollution, congestion, and emissions while enhancing access to jobs and education.

Busses require less infrastructure and are more flexible than other modes of public transit. They are essential to filling in the gaps of a transit system.

Helsinki and its transit system features a lot of great service design. However, as an international person in Finland, I have experienced first hand that the travel experience for internationals is often neglected.

Understanding the problem

I conducted 3 in-depth interviews to better understand their transportation and navigation habits as well as how they utilize navigation on the HSL app.

To really immerse the participants, I interviewed them while we were on a bus. I gave them a café/museum to get to by bus but didn't interfere with their navigation task.

I also created a survey that was supposed to add quantitative data to the insights. But as the results came in, I realized that it didn't add value to this qualitative experience exploration. The survey questions weren't able to pick up on nuances and the sample size was too small with only 20 people.

Mapping the current experience

To fully understand this multi-faceted experience, I created a service map. This helped me keep track of everything and understand how different information is connected.

There were some recurring themes that had the most gravity and potential:

Ideating and looking for feedback

I started by gathering my reserach insights, visualizing my idea in a flow and exploring different options for each step to ensure I found the best design solution.

After my initial UX thinking and ideation I showed it to the 3 research participants to get a different perspective. I also received insights on how HSL works by a previous employee.

All of this was crucial in adjusting my design and making more informed decisions instead of just working in a silo.

Breaking down the product

This step-by-step approach helps HSL adapt it to their needs and sets them up to make informed decisions every step of the way.

I've highlighted some of the key product and design decisions but if you'd like to know more, check out the official project website or feel free to reach out via email or LinkedIn.

Thinking beyond wireframes

The public Figma file I prepared for HSL includes a detailed project writeup I prepared for HSL. I'm currently in the process of handing it off.

In it, I mention important considerations such as accessibility and phone limitations (no data, no GPS, no battery).

Throughout my project I also thought about real-world channels and how they could be improved for a better overall experience.


I pitched my project to Helsinki's public transit company and they are currently implementing it.

Key learnings