The brief: Metlink, as part of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, is the Wellington region’s public transport network of bus, train and harbour ferry services - overseeing 4 rail lines, over 100 bus routes, more than 200 school bus services, and 4 harbour ferry stops.

Metlink required an all-new responsive website to help hundreds of thousands of commuters find public transport information, such as timetables and dynamic journey plans, quickly and easily.

The website was recognised in September 2016 with the “2016 WebAward for outstanding achievement in web development” accolade in the world’s premier competition for web developers and advertising agencies.

Brief
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Delivering UX that works

Many people visit the Metlink site on mobile, often at bus stops or on the move, so we focused on delivering a great small-screen experience. Somar’s expertise in UX design drove the site’s extensive functionality, such as being able to track vehicles in real-time and select from hundreds of timetables. We recruited external user test participants and oversaw user testing, findings and recommendations to Metlink to ensure a great end product.

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An Open Source solution

The Metlink site was developed in SilverStripe, which was the perfect content-management system for a complex site of this scale. Because of the advanced functionality and use of numerous APIs, our development team engineered several advanced modules. Somar also supplied an Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosting solution to cater for heavy traffic loads, especially during peak rush hours and in the case of emergencies such as an earthquake or severe storm.

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Let the results do the talking 

Over 20,000 people rely on the Metlink website every day and the Greater Wellington Regional Council have received extremely positive feedback to date - 94% of users surveyed prefer the new site vs. the previous website.

Overcoming challenges

Every project has issues and roadblocks. Somar roll with the punches and learn from everything we do:

Multiple stakeholders

Greater Wellington Regional Council has many decision makers and stakeholders, each with their own perspective. We treated this as an opportunity to engage, and this attitude drove our success across the project.

Defining user feedback

The Metlink site needed many user testing sessions - in UX labs, out on Wellington streets with mobile devices, and by external companies. Somar compiled the results into an easy to read summary document for the product owners, then helped prioritise resources to solve common user issues.

Change to the project lead

The client project manager changed part way through. Somar made sure there was a full handover and that the new manager was up to speed on the project. By proactively increasing comms during this transition period, we ensured the project stayed on track and ran smoothly with no issues.

Server load and emergencies

The Metlink website needs to handle the stress of a natural disaster or other serious unplanned disruption. Somar set up a robust, reliable server solution using the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform then completed several stress tests. We pushed a test scenario for 30,000 server requests per minute (far above what the site might expect), and it performed admirably.

On-going Improvements and Rollouts

Somar continue to work alongside Metlink as a digital partner, and we are always thinking of ways to improve the website - with a number of exciting updates planned.

One significant update, rolled out in early 2016, allowed for content editors and transport operators to deliver Metlink Service Updates and delays via SMS, Email, and Twitter - directly to their 22,000 MyMetlink user base.

We are also working on a new mobile app for Android and iOS, which will deliver real-time stop and vehicle information to users on the go. It is currently scheduled for release at the end of 2016, along with some big improvements to the content pages of the Metlink website.

Somar enjoy the relationship we have with Metlink as a digital partner, and together we frequently discuss ways we can improve their user experience in the digital space. Metlink appreciate our honesty and expertise to deliver award-winning solutions on-time, and within their budget on a regular basis.

www.metlink.org.nz