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I am trying to design the layout for a Bus Ticket Booking App. User is allowed to choose the seats he wishes to book. Below is the layout provided to us.

enter image description here

I am looking for some inspiration and suggestions on how to reproduce the same on Android/iOS Apps in terms of an innovative and easy way for allowing users to choose the seats they wish to book.

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If we've answered your question, you can select the best solution so that if anyone comes across the same problem in the future, they know the course of action. –  dnbrv Feb 7 '12 at 18:42
    
@dnbrv done :) thank you :) –  Harsha M V Feb 7 '12 at 19:54
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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Seat selection on mobile devices needs to fulfill several conditions:

  • Key physical features of the vehicle, such as entrances/exits and the loo (if any) need to be clearly marked.
  • All active areas must be large enough to be "pressed" easily.
  • If the content doesn't fit the screen comfortably, there must be an indicator that more is available in some direction.
  • The selection process needs to be equally usable in portrait & landscape orientation.

Therefore, here's what you need to do:

  • Draw a basic outline of a bus around the seats with proportional representation of space (icons for seats can touch each other but the total space should be equal to the space of a seat plus leg-room).
  • Increase the size of each seat icon so that it can be pressed without accidentally activating a neighboring one.
  • Remove the conductor seat from the layout & the legend unless it plays some important role in the boarding/travelling processes.
  • Increase contrast between background and elements, e.g. no dark blue text on black background.
  • Remove seat numbers from unavailable seats to avoid any confusion or add an icon of a human shape (see United Airlines example).
  • If there's no space on the screen for the legend, add a button to the bottom controls where you should have Back and Book the ticket that toggles the legend. Note: this isn't a best practice but limited screen real estate forces it.
  • If all seats don't fit in one screen, apply a gradient fading to the edge where more seats are available to cue for scrolling.
  • Make sure that landscape layout is usable.

Examples:

United Airlines seat selection chart. Notice wing location, real size proportions, and the occupied seat icon.
united airlines seat selection

Potential seat selection mock-ups (portrait & landscape respectively and not to scale):
enter image description here enter image description here

Mock-up for horizontal scrolling affordance:

enter image description here

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Do you always use Comic Sans for mockups? –  fredley Jan 20 '12 at 16:06
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Haha. It's the default font in Pencil, which I use for low-fi mockups just to convey the point. –  dnbrv Jan 20 '12 at 16:27
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Think about what influences a passenger's decision process when they book a seat. Which factors influence their choice?

  • Window seat
  • Isle seat
  • Emergency exit
  • Space for wheelchair
  • Proximity to toilet
  • Proximity to travel partners
  • Etc ...

Personally unless one of these factors is relevant, I don't care where I sit - so having the seat chosen for me would provide a better experience.

I'd suggest thinking laterally. You don't need to stick to a graphical layout to allow your users to achieve their goals. Departing from this traditional format might even offer improvements.

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I like this list of factors. 1 thing you could deduce from this is that it's not useful to display the seat number. That's only useful when you're on the bus trying to find your seat. –  Rob Jan 20 '12 at 15:21
    
@Rob: No, if not seat number then at least the row number is necessary. People have to remember where they are sitting without looking at the ticket. –  dnbrv Jan 20 '12 at 15:30
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Here's my suggestion:

  • Show only 1/2 the amount of seats the bus can cater. This way, the user will have a bigger 'seat' button to click on. Users can scroll up/down to view the seats.
  • Have the legend displayed out of the seats screen; however do have it shown always at the top/bottom of the screen.
  • Provide some indicators where the features of the bus are. i.e. Doors, emergency exists, wheels, etc.
  • Provide (realistic) scaled representation of what the customers can expect in terms of size. (The aisle area seems to be like 3 seats width in your picture)
  • Use appropriate colors (depending on your customer demographics, audience culture) to show the different states of seats booking (In my cultural context, not available should be red, etc).
  • You probably need to provide more information such as the bus service number, routes, etc. to provide the context of what the user is booking for.
  • And most important of all, you should have a 'book it' button to allow reservation.
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If you're still at the research phase, consider including in your web convention survey http://seatguru.com by Tripdvisor.

Users can search for a flight> when the flight appears in results, the plane is presented in an illustrated top level view> users then mouse over (impractical for iPad) seats for specific information about that particular seat. Info includes proximity to a toilet, is a TV screen in a head rest, class type and other useful info. There's also a handy inflight amenities key with clickable icons providing related details.

Some of Seatgurus features could translate well into your app.

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Thanks a lot. yeah i am still in research stage. I will go thru the website :) –  Harsha M V Jan 20 '12 at 16:00
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