Assess what users want when developing a traffic information Web site.

The experience of several of the nation’s top traffic and transit information Web site developers.

Louisville,Kentucky,United States; Georgia,United States; Virginia,United States; Houston,Texas,United States; Denver,Colorado,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

The number and quality of traffic information Web sites has increased over time. The availability of additional real-time information as a result of the Real-time System Management Information Program will enable significant improvements in traveler information provision. Based on interviews with developers of top traffic and transit information Web sites, recommendations have been summarized on how developers of such Web sites should assess what their users want. These recommendations include scanning of other Web sites for what is provided, conducting surveys, performing usability testing, evaluating the feedback received through the Web site, and seeking feedback through other sources, such as the 511 system. The existing experience with traveler information Web sites should facilitate the dissemination of the information in an efficient and effective manner.
  • Check out other existing Web sites: TRIMARC (http://www.trimarc.org/) provides travelers with information for the interstate highway system within the greater Louisville/Southern Indiana urbanized area. The developers of this site accessed other good traveler information sites for ideas to ensure ease of use, and consequently designed the site with the ability to click on signs or cameras to get more detailed information.
  • Conduct surveys: Surveys allow developers to find out what potential users want before developing a site or updating an existing one. The Georgia Department of Transportation seeks input from the public by surveying users about what features they use, how often and when, and whether they use the information to alter the route or mode of transportation they take.
  • Perform usability testing: The Virginia Department of Transportation performed usability testing after their site was developed to ensure that their Web site worked and the commuters received the information that they expected.
  • Obtain feedback: Developers of the best traveler information Web sites mentioned receiving user feedback and using their comments to address technical issues or update the information provided. Houston TranStar looks for continuous improvement, reviewing the site on a monthly basis and implementing new features every two or three months. Others, such as the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD), have developed beta-test groups of Web site users who try out new features and comment on redesigns.
  • Obtain feedback through 511 systems: Transit agencies frequently work with their call center customer service staff to identify questions that people ask, and consequently provide that information on the Web site. Although this direct information is not available with a fully automated telephone system, statistics on usage and intercept surveys could provide similar information.
This lesson suggests that when traveler information Web site developers perform extensive assessment of what their users want, it can lead to good quality Web sites. The implementation of the recommendations described in this lesson of how to evaluate user needs will greatly enhance customer satisfaction. Thus, when designers are creating or updating traveler information Web sites, it is imperative that they include a thorough assessment of their customers' requirements to ensure a successful and user friendly site.

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Best Practices for Traveler Information Websites: Lessons Learned From Top Traffic and Transit Website Winners

Author: Economic and Industry Analysis Division John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center United States Department of Transportation

Published By: Office of Operations Federal Highway Administration U.S. Department of Transportation

Source Date: 6/1/2006

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Lesson ID: 2006-00317