Orca Card 2 (Orca2) is a joint transit initiative to create the next version of the Orca card network. The new network would move the Orca card to an account-based system, unlike the current system where funds are stored on the card itself. With the new system, funds would be managed through individual user accounts and be available immediately, unlike the current system with can take 24-48 hours. This system is scheduled to go online by 2021.

The goal of the UX team was to create a mobile solution that will put Orca2 card management in the hands of transit customers.

Project Timeline: Two Weeks
The UX Team:
David McLean: Project Manager, Interaction design research and Visual design
Carmen O’Toole: User research and Interaction design

My Role

Project management | Interaction design | Visual design

Task analysis, user-needs prioritization, paper sketches, storyboards and interactive prototypes and visual designs.



We have concluded that overall the Orca card system isn’t meeting customers’ needs to manage their cards, which is causing a feeling of uncertainty, frustration, and distrust. How might we improve so that their experience is more successful based on providing them with a mobile solution that aligns with their needs and on-the-move lifestyle?


We believe that shifting card management to their mobile devices will build trust and the feeling of reliability which will reduce anxiety for Orca card customers. We will know this to be true by an increase in the number of cards managed by mobile devices vs. the website and kiosk.

A task analysis was performed on the Orca website to determine the number of steps (clicks or data inputs) it would take complete the task of adding money to an Orca card. The website took 11 steps. The system took 24-48 hours for the balance to appear to the Orca card.


Orca Card 2 - Task Analysis of Desktop/Website

A task analysis was performed on the kiosk system to determine the number of steps (taps or data inputs) it would take to complete the task of adding money to an Orca card. The kiosk took 10 steps. The balance appeared immediately with the kiosk system.


Orca Card 2 - Task Analysis of Kiosk

The success of the project will be measured by the data below. Of the 262,000 daily computers to downtown Seattle, 126,800 are daily transit commuters. We are projecting that 38,040 of 126,800 transit computers will shift to using the mobile app to manage their Orca card in the first six months.

Daily Transit Commuters
Orca2 Adopters

Source: Commute Seattle, Seattle Department of Transportation

Impact/Effort Matrix

Orca Card 2 - Impact vs. Effort Matrix

The user’s needs were prioritized based on the impact compared to the amount of effort it would take to deliver. Based on user research, adding a new card, adding money, viewing card balance and accessing help were considered to have a high impact on the user and were determined to have a low amount of effort to deliver. Though users wanted the ability to view card history (balance, spend and money loads) and have access to a transit map within the app, these were considered to be high impact and would take a high amount of effort to deliver. Deleting a card was considered a low impact/low effort.

Based on the exercise, the following would be explored during the design phase:

  • Add a new card
  • Add money
  • Able to view card balance
  • Access to help
  • Transfer card balances and delete a card
  • View card history (balance, spend and money loads)
  • Integrate a transit map

Jane Adams

“I use my Orca card for speedier entry and so I don’t have to keep cash on me. Time and convenience are most important to me.”

Jane is a 35-year-old HR junior manager at Amazon. She has a personal car but mainly takes the bus and light rail to work, and drives to the grocery store. She also often goes out for drinks with friends in Ballard and either takes an Uber home or a bus depending on convenience/cost difference. Her parents live in Bremerton and every other week she takes the ferry to visit.


Age: 35
Gender: Female
Work: Amazon
Income: $50,000
Transportation: Personal car, bike, Uber, bus, light rail

Tech Empathy: Medium
Favorite Brands: Apple, Uber
Favorite Channels: iPhone, email, twitter
Has: iPhone, Mac,
Uses: Apple Wallet, Venmo, Uber

Pain Points

  • Deleting cards, adding cards
  • Adding money and knowing the balance
  • Where to get help
  • Knowing ride history/cost per ride
  • Feelings: anxiety, embarrassment, stress, frustration

How we can serve: Simplify the process of managing her Orca card

Needs from Metro: Get to and from work without parking a car.

This persona was created based on the user research of Carmen O’Toole


To kick off the design and prototype phase of the project, the team sketched layout ideas for the app screens. The result was a wealth of ideas that could be taken forward to wireframes and user testing.


Orca Card 2 - Sketches by David

Carmen O'Toole

Orca Card 2 - Sketches by Carmen

To kick off the design, the team held a design studio exercise to explore the option of adding a map to the design. I presented our final results.

A third task analysis was done to compare the number of steps it took to complete the task of adding money to an Orca card. Mobile took 5 steps vs. the 11 and 10 steps for the website and the kiosk.


Orca Card 2 - Task analysis of mobile

Jane receives her Orca card in the mail, she opens the envelope, downloads the Orca2 app to her mobile phone, snaps a photo of the card and adds a balance to her card. The next day, she heads off to catch the bus.

Orca Card 2 - Storyboard One

A couple weeks later, Jane heads out the door to catch the bus, the bus arrives and she boards. After tapping her card on the reader, it indicates she has no funds. She pulls out her phone, opens the Orca2 card app and adds a balance from her stored credit card. She then taps her card to the reader as she rides away on the bus.

Orca Card 2 - Storyboard Two


Select a card

Add money

View history

View map


The short-term and mid-term strategies should be considered releases.  The short term addresses the user’s highest impact needs. The mid term includes adding the ability to view card history and a transit map. The recommendation for the transit map integration is to partner with a transit map company. There are many to choose from and below are a few of those options.

Short Term

High Impact/Low Effort

  • Add a new card
  • Add money
  • Able to view card balance
  • Access to help
  • Transfer card balances and delete a card

Mid Term

High Impact/High Effort

  • View card history (balance, spend and money loads)
  • Transit map
Transit Map Partner Options

Orca2's long-term strategy

The long-term strategy for Orca2 is to move to an account-based system. This means online card refills will be usable instantly, not after 24-48 hours like today’s Orca. The strategy recommends designing the system for both open and closed-loop payments. This opens up the possibility of Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled devices.

Orca Card 2 added to Apple Wallet
Orca Card 2 using Apple Wallet Pay
Apple Pay and Transit Reader


I learned how critical communication is when working on a team that shares multiple UX disciplines.

Capuli Club

Capuli Club

How might we create a subscription service that gives patrons a positive experience while educating them about sustainability and wellness?

Visual Design – Project Management

Orca Card 2

Orca Card 2

How might we improve the Ocra Card experience by providing transit riders with a solution that aligns with their on-the-move lifestyle?

Visual Design – Project Management



How might we create a mobile application to improve the grocery shopping experience?

Interaction design – Visual design

Standard Goods

Standard Goods

How might we build trust and bring value to the Standard Goods brand to increase in-store and online sales?

User research – Information architecture – Interaction design