Yeah, their old website was outdated and minimalist, but not terribly so. It still functioned. And it looks a lot like other websites also from 2011... ahem...


Blech. This is terrible. Did somebody's nephew just learn websites?

Previously, it looked like the design was driven by function, as one might hope for a transit agency website. Trip planner right up front with all the fields shown so you know what to enter, menu across the top, and no stock photos. Now, it looks like a glossy promo flyer slathered across a web page. And there's some kind of notification bar stamped on everything. The first few pages to which I browsed around have such gigantic and pointless photos that the text--presumably the useful part of the page--is pushed off the bottom of the screen. Example is the contact page (which bizarrely is at /help-contact-us, though a second one without all the crap is available at /contact), where two people's faces inexplicably fill the screen. Even if I zoom out / shrink font, the only potentially-useful information on the page is below the fold. Who thought this was a good idea?

The multi-level menu, which appears only after you follow a button link, has a section titled "Home" with subsections for "Real-time arrivals," "Trip planner," and "Trips and schedules."

Somewhere in the middle of /help-contact-us, there is a section titled "Common questions," that contains no questions, just topics with links to other pages, the first of which does not even exist. Anybody proofreading this stuff?

I stopped there.


"Hey, we have too much information on here, and it's all just, like, right there in front of the user with a bunch of cyberlinks and crap. Can we get some diverse photos in there? And more hot pink, please lol."


@3 -- I'm with you. I've done web development, which means I have messed around with web design (although I wouldn't call myself a web designer) and this just looks like crap. From a functionality standpoint, it sucks. Maybe that is the point. It is a great allegory for Sound Transit as a whole. It isn't that functional, but it is pretty.

Other than the map, I don't see any improvement. They seem focused on specific trips, which are actually quite easy using other means (e. g. One Bus Away, Google). While the old website was clunky, this is clunkier, and has done little to address the biggest clunks. If I'm on the Metro bus website, and type in the name of a Sound Transit bus, it pops right up. But if I'm on the ST website, it has no idea how to get to the biggest transit system in the state. But now things are really weird. If I'm on a bus page, I have to pick "preferences". What preferences? I just want to look at the fucking schedule. Does this bus come every ten minutes, or every half hour? I have no idea, unless I "download PDF schedule". Seriously -- try it yourself. Pick "ST Express Bus", then "510 - Everett - Seattle". Pick any preference (AKA bus stop) and see what it says. Basically nothing. No stops scheduled. Now you have to fuck around with the "Earlier" and "Later" buttons, as if the only thing I'm interested in is taking the bus right now. There is no hint to the fact that the 510 isn't running the direction specified, and I need the 511 right now. To find out any real information I have to download a fucking PDF (talk about ancient technology). Not that I have anything against PDFs, it is just that they are generally designed for printing, not reading on a screen. The PDF, for example, doesn't scroll. I can see an old schedule on the WayBack machine (the Internet Archive) and scroll all the way down, quickly notice when they have service, don't have service, when another bus takes over the basic route, etc.

Yes, the information is there, but it takes more clicks to get to it. It is way less intuitive, forcing me to put in the time, rather than just looking at the overall schedule. They are making things way more complicated than they need to, because ST in general is very simple. Most of the buses don't run that often, and Link has a very simple schedule: six minutes during rush hour, ten minutes outside it. That's not it exactly, but pretty close. The details are simple and easy to read -- if you download the PDF.

I do like the map though.


Another reason to drive my SUV.


3 So you are new to the internet then?


@7: Nope. Used it regularly since 1993.


@7 -- What do you like about it? I am just curious, because maybe I'm missing something. From a usability standpoint, it doesn't seem any better. Maybe that is because I tend to use the website on a big computer (not a phone) and could care less about the colors (pink, shmink, I just want to read the damn schedule). On a big monitor, the old website wasn't great, but it was pretty obvious. For example, take the 510, which goes from Everett to Seattle (by definition): The labels for the day of the week are right there. It is pretty easy to swap directions, or pick a different bus. But mostly, the schedule gives me a good feel for what is going on for the day. If I'm headed up to Everett in the morning, I have to take the 512, but it runs fairly often. I was interested in the 510 (since it is an express) but it is peak direction only (meaning Everett to Seattle in the morning, Seattle to Everett in the afternoon). The point is, it is all there. If I'm new to the system, I can get the hang of it really quickly. If I use it occasionally, but forget the numbers, there it is. The maps were pretty clunky, but not that hard to navigate.

Now it just looks like a mess. If I navigate to the 510, and select the big pink "Find Schedule", I have to select the left nav bar, and scroll down. It says the bus will be there at 2:47 PM. What? I am confused, not sure what happened, and just go ahead and download the PDF. That was an option on the other site, but like most people, I only use PDFs for printing.

There are some niceties. The map is much better, although now it is the focus and takes up the bulk of the screen space, which is probably why the schedule is off to the side. You can email yourself the schedule for a particular stop (if you've managed to figure this all out) which is great. Trip planning may be better, but I just use Google for that (it tends to be better). Likewise with Real-Time Arrivals -- I use One Bus Away. I think the biggest improvement may be in how they list the projects. That is what Ms. Graham mentioned, and she is absolutely right. The old site was very clunky for finding that out (although frankly, I just did a search, like "Roosevelt Station" and found the appropriate web page). The new site allows for fairly easy navigation. To me, though, that sort of information is way less important than when the buses run where.

In contrast, check out Metro's web site. Here is the 7: Pretty simple, really. I can see that it doesn't serve the tail (Prentice Street) very often, but the core of the route is quite frequent. If I'm heading there this afternoon, I won't bother with the schedule. The maps are old school, but they do list the connecting bus routes. That means if I couldn't remember the name of the bus that runs on 23rd, I can see it easily. I can then just type in the bus number at the bottom and find it (ST does this as well, but in a clunkier fashion). The maps on ST are nicer -- overlaying a standard street map -- but they don't show connecting buses (even on their own system).

I would assume that they did usability studies with this, but I wonder if they focused too much on trip planning and real time arrivals (which are done better by other apps/websites).

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