What it is
A prototype for SJ's new site. Brand new design, clearer presentation and a better user experience.Launch site
Focus on easy accessibility. Color blind, young, old or stupid; everyone should be able to catch the train.
To revamp, amp, and make SJ's site pop. We were gonna make people stoked about trains!
In autumn 2013 a tantalizing prospect was presented to us. Our partner Pond had won the assignment to redo sj.se - Sweden’s largest railway company's site. It was interesting and exciting for several reasons. It was a huge project; on a magnitude we had seldom worked before. It was technically complex, as our frontend needed to integrate with all the subsystems that was already in use at SJ. But above all, sj.se has for a long, long time been a constant thorn in many people's side; a huge site, difficult to navigate and with a less than satisfactory experience performing its main task: selling tickets.
Regularly using SJ's services ourselves, the prospect of remaking the site into something speedy and easy to use was thrilling. In short, we were so stoked.
What we have done
Being such a large project it was divided into phases. We started out making a bunch of different prototypes for the start page; testing out different kinds of menus, layouts and use cases. In this project, we really worked more as partners than subcontractors to Pond and they let us in on the creative process, carefully listening to our input on design and UX.
We all wanted to put the emphasis on what the site was all about: Selling tickets. However, due to technical restrictions we were less than free to do as we saw fit. A lot of the information that we felt made ordering tickets so clumsy and tiresome at the current site, was unfortunately non-negotiable. It had to be there.
We were a bit stumped, but we focused on what we could control, hoping that the subsystems would catch up and allow for a more flexible booking eventually. We iterated through a lot of different designs, aiming to make the site easy to comprehend and also easy for content providers at SJ to use. We thought a lot about how to draw focus to the right things and how to make the site easy to understand - for everybody. In this was our biggest challenge: There's hardly anyone that hasn't been to SJ's site at some point to order tickets. People of all ages and with very different levels of computer skills.
Eventually we had a prototype that we felt was a good start and that SJ felt was what they wanted as well. It was decided that it would be tested on the general public at an event on Stockholm's Central Station. Random people were invited to test the site, answering questions and being tasked to go about doing certain actions on the prototype. The feedback was collected and brought back to us, to do improvements on the prototype.
After this, implementation at SJ's web department commenced. We were there, helping out for several weeks and the result was beta.sj.se; open to the general public and utilising a new (to us) tool from a company called Usabilla to, again, collect feedback from the users.
SJ's new site is nowhere near finished. And the work goes on to make sj.se one of the standard setting sites for travel out there.
We're proud to have been part of the process, and we learned a lot of new things working with such a huge organisation as SJ. We're looking forward to seeing how the end result turns out.