Re-Strategizing: User Segmentation and User Needs
Re-structuring the crazy mess that is the MTA website.
(As of late 2018, it’s all better now. Phew.)
The MTA Website is Horrible. Period. (Look below and you'll see why). The MTA website needs to serve as the main source of MTA related information. It stores official and real-time updates on subway, bus and rail schedule, maps and other rider information. The MTA also need provide information on service changes and real time service updates.
In order to present itself as reliable, the website needs to be simple, well-structured and accessible. Information across the website needs to be consistent and fit under the right categories to avoid confusion. Information needs to be found quickly and needs to be differentiable from the multiple transportation platforms MTA maintains.
In addition, the website needs to appear welcoming in order to encourage international visits and make tourists feel at ease when learning about MTA services.
Tourists need access to schedules, fare, route and map info. They also need to be made aware ahead of time the changes in services the day they visit. They also need tools to plan their trip. In addition, because tourists come from all over the world, they need an option to change languages once entered the website. It is also important for them to be able to access tourist guides and rider apps.
Frequent riders know their way around by now. The only reason to visit the official MTA website is to have quick access to current service status, future / weekend / special service changes. They might also look for rider tools and set up text alerts.
First time riders, like tourists, need to gain access to basic MTA information including schedules, fare, route and map info. First time riders need to be made aware of the MTA riding experience including whether or not the station has accessible entrances and ways of getting around (elevator...etc). They also need access to rider safety information as well as rider apps to ease their riding experience.
Re-Structuring the Website
I tested the old website on some of my classmates where I asked them to perform a certain task. I asked one of my classmates to try and find station information (transit services, accessibility...etc) about Time Square station. Because of the overwhelming number of menu items, hyperlinks and dispersed information, it took her almost two minutes before completing the task. This shows a lot of of navigational and structural issues with the current website.
I decided to restructure the website so that there is a clear distinction between the different types of transit systems. I looked at different analogous contexts in which I compared to my new website experience to being like Disney Land, where there are multiple worlds within on big one. I also compared it to restaurant menus where the different food categories are distinct.
I want the users to face as little distractions as possible and focus on on type of transportation at once. By doing this, tourists feel less overwhelmed with the overload of information they see at once is is more comfortable with traveling with MTA. Frequent riders will also have quick access to information without having to look through heaps of links to subpages.
The Current MTA Website is Very Text Heavy. It relies solely on hyperlinks to deliver information. This becomes a problem because users will have a hard time differentiating the different contents across the website. The website is also very long in length. Not all the information presented in the homepage is needed and can be stored somewhere else instead. The website does do a good job allow users to have quick access to real time service changes update and menu items that link to different transit systems.
As seen in the structural diagram below, there are also a lot of problems with regards to how the website is structured. Information about one specific transit type is dispersed across different pages of the website.
^ The beautiful MTA website. (Taken in Fall of 2017)
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