Redesigning Presto App for Better User Experience


Presto is a popular payment system many Toronto residents use to pay for public transit. As a designer, I noticed that the app had several usability issues that made the user experience complex and confusing. Therefore, I decided to take on the challenge of redesigning the app to improve its usability and make it more user-friendly.

Disclaimer: As a designer, I understand that redesigning a product is not a one-time solution but an ongoing process. The best products come from observing and listening to users and constantly refining the design based on feedback. This case study is a snapshot of a single design iteration for the Presto app.



To gain a better understanding of the needs and behaviors of Toronto commuters, I conducted extensive research and interviewed dozens of people.

According to data from the Toronto Transit Commission, more than 1.8 million people ride the TTC daily, making it one of the largest transit systems in North America [1]. As of 2019, the Presto card is used by more than 3 million customers in Ontario [2]. However, despite the convenience of the card, many users still find the process of adding funds and managing their accounts complex and time-consuming [3, 4, 5].

In addition, my research revealed that many Toronto commuters have multiple payment options, including credit and debit cards, and would prefer to use these methods for transit fare payment. As of 2021, the Presto is piloting a new contactless payment system, allowing riders to tap their contactless credit or debit card or mobile wallet to pay for their fare directly at the turnstile. While this new system is not yet widely available, it highlights the importance of simplicity and flexibility in transit fare payment.

Here are some problems identified during the research phase. (Apple Store and Google Pay reviews)

  • The inability to add the Presto card to Apple Wallet/Google Pay for tapping on the phone is a common issue mentioned in multiple reviews.

  • The delay in loading funds onto the card when done through the app is another issue that users have faced.

  • Some users have also reported issues with the app's balance display, showing a negative balance even when funds have been added, leading to declined transactions.

  • The app has been criticized for not allowing the purchase of bus/train fares from the app and instead requiring users to purchase a physical card.

  • The app has been described as slow, unreliable, and difficult to use, leading to frustration and discouragement of public transit use.

  • The app has also been reported to stop working entirely or fail to connect to the network, leaving users unable to access their funds.

  • The app's updates sometimes require users to re-enter their login information, causing frustration and inconvenience when they need to add funds in a hurry.


To create an effective redesign for the Presto app, it was necessary to start with a solid foundation. This meant taking into account the existing features and functionality of the app and building upon them to improve the user experience.

A complete overhaul of the interface and some of the core flows was required to ensure that the app was easy to use and visually appealing for users. The resulting design incorporates the best elements of the original app while addressing the critical pain points that were identified through research and testing.

The app's design takes into account the simplicity and familiarity that are key to building useful apps. It was designed to be intuitive and easy to navigate, with clear and consistent visual cues. I used a simple and clean design language with a focus on legibility and readability to make it easier for users to find the information they need quickly. The minimal use of colors was chosen to shift the focus only to necessary elements.



In conclusion, redesigning the Presto app was an exciting and rewarding project. Through interviews and a deep dive into the most popular features, I was able to create an app that focuses on simplicity and familiarity for its users.

The slow adoption of the current app is due to limited flexibility, complex interactions and bugs. At the same time, it was essential to focus on the most popular features in order to create an app that is easy to use.

Additionally, the Presto app redesign project provided an opportunity to learn about designing for a specific audience and practice different tools for creating prototypes and products.