Small improvements make a big difference on Metro.net

Metro.net update April 2010

A "Quick Links" box has been added to the home page to make navigation easier.

Metro debuted its redesigned web page in February with a fresh new aesthetic and a completely reengineered back-end. That back-end stuff is important because it changed Metro’s website from a rather bloated collection of thousands of static HTML pages that were difficult to update and manage to a modern Content Management System (CMS) based site that can be easily and dynamically updated by Metro staff. What this means for the end user is that Metro’s website now has fresher content that’s easier to find – especially for users coming in from outside the site through a search engine like Google.

In fact, since the website launched in February, traffic to the website from search engines has more than doubled. This is great since most people tend to hit up Google first when looking for info and Metro’s prevalence on the search engine means more people are getting the Metro info they need. And it shows – overall visits to Metro.net are up, way up.

Customers have had some complaints about the placement of certain information – namely the trip planner, probably the most popular feature on the site. Customers felt that the trip planner was too far down on the page, often getting lost “below the fold” (meaning users would have to scroll down to find it) and therefore making it an inconvenience to find this most wanted feature. Well, Metro’s web team has responded and now users will find Metro’s trip planner and Google’s trip planner well above the fold and just beneath another great new feature that’s been added recently – Quick Links.

Metro.net rail advisory page update

The rail advisories page has been redesigned.

Another complaint some customers had was difficulty finding links to the information they want most – timetables, maps and fare information. Initially this info could only be found in the top toolbar which was nice, but it didn’t really jump out at the user. The web team responded and added a Quick Links box featuring bold icons that are unmissable and point users to some of the most viewed pages on the site.

Below the Quick Links and trip planners on the Metro.net homepage users will find service updates for both bus and rail. The rail advisories page has been visually revamped and it’s now much easier for customers to know exactly when and why their favorite rail line is experiencing a service issue.

As a Metro rider who often visits Metro.net for info and as a graphic designer who dabbles in web design from time to time I can say that these small changes really make a big improvement. The Metro web team is constantly striving to improve the site and address customers concerns, so don’t hesitate give them feedback – you can do that by taking this website survey or filling out the website feedback form on the Contact page of Metro.net.

One thing I like to do is look at other agency websites like the Chicago Transit Authority or Portland’s Tri-Met to see what they’re doing – and if I see something cool I’ll let the web team know. Why reinvent the wheel, right?

There’s a lot more cool stuff coming from Metro’s web team – including HTML timetables and improved search within the site – so stay tuned.

Categories: Technology

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